GyroxGoesGlobal Timeline: Installment Three

The Flight Across The Middle East


April 5th 2010 

April 6th 2010 

April 7th 2010 

 April 8th 2010

April 9th 2010 

April 10th 2010 

On the morning of the 5th of April, Norman prepared G-YROX for his departure from Sitia Airport In Crete. This would not only be a departure from one country with an arrival in another but also the first time on this journey that the departure would mean an arrival in a new continent...Africa!

So after saying his farewells to the friends he had made in Crete during his short stay there, he fired G-YROX up and headed out of Sitia, flew the short 14 miles across the Island of Crete to the Mediterranean coast and settled down for the 340 mile open-water crossing ahead.  

 Whilst Norman had been flying through Europe, a group of aviation enthusiasts had joined together to offer as much assistance as they could to Norman during his transit of Egypt. This included a welcoming comittee and offer of transportation and accomodation when he arrived at Alexandria. But this was scuppered by Egyptian bureaucracy when the contact in Alexandria wasn't even allowed on the airfield to meet Norman on his arrival.

So following his mammoth crossing of the Mediterranean Norman touched down at the northern Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria where he was not greeted by the hoped for enthusiasts but by a crew of airport staff who treated him as though he was an incoming airliner! He did remark on the chocks supplied would stop a Jumbo Jet from rolling away and dwarfed the little Gyro.


But at least he was in Africa and even though he was conducted to a rather expensive hotel, supplied buy the airport authorities, he was later that evening able to meet up with the original contact, Ahmed El Heity, who was able tyo show him the sights of this ancient port.

One big surprise for Norman was that a welcome party had been arranged at the Alexandria Aero Club, where he was to be guest of honour!

Here he was able to sample his first Egyptian food when he tucked into a dish of Koshari and later on was asked to make a speech to the many pilots gathered there.  

Following the previous evenings delightful reception from the Aero club members, the morning of Tuesday April the 6th found Norman preparing to leave Alexandria to fly the short 110 mile hop to October airport; lying about 25 miles from the centre of Cairo in the western desert. At the same time the original group of aviation enthusiasts based in Cairo were busy preparing to recieve Norman into the capital of the cradle of civilisation. 

Norman's first flight across true desert was uneventful although he was to comment later on the barreness of the landscape and landed at the quiet airfield at 11:50am. At this point Norman's intentions were to refuel, attend a media conference and then fly on to Luxor that afternoon. But this is were the best laid plans etc became a victim of Egyptian time.


Norman was greeted at October airport by British ex-pat, Eddie Gold and Tristar Airlines Flight despatcher, Ahmed Hassan Mohamed and even with Ahmed translating for Norman, the slowness of the bureacracy encountered just to leave the airfield was already eating up the minutes in Norman's hectic schedule.

But after meeting members of the Egyptian Aviation Academy (based at October) Norman, Eddie and Ahmed travelled to the local city, also called October 6th City, where an impromptu change of plan meant that the press conference took place in the local McDonald's! At this point, the transport hired to run Norman around, decided that they had another appointment and promptly dissapeared! A frantic rush to acquire a taxi meant that the group were soon on their way to find fuel, but not that easy to find 95 Octane in a desert city. Frantic phone calls to home base were made asking if a mixture of fuels would work and as this was mulled over, a petrol staion with a massive '95 Octane' appeared in the distance.  

Fuel bag filled and a fast drive back to the airport meant that Norman may still be able to fly to Luxor today. But...a delay at the main security gate, further bureaucracy concerning fees and the actual job of getting kitted out ready to fly meant that Norman was cutting it fine in his attempt to fly out that day. 

But under the roasting Saharan sun Norman taxied G-YROX out onto the taxiway and lined up for take off. Back at the small terminal, Eddie and Ahmed (and a couple of bemused security guards) prepared to give a final wave-off to Norman as he headed south. But then, and without warning, Norman taxied back to the terminal!

After careful consideration, Norman had decided that because of the delays and the distance to go to reach Luxor, it was quite possible that he would be arriving after sunset and night flying was not an option.

Norman would fly to Luxor the followingday...or so he thought. He was then informed that October Airport was closed on a Wednesday. He wouldn't even be able to get past the main gate. So Norman's Cairo adventure was ro last a bit longer, which pleased Eddie and Ahmed.  

So making arrangements to keep the services of the newly found taxi driver, Norman was taken the 35 mile journey back to Eddie's apartment near Cairo Airport. Here he was greeted by Eddie's partner, Anthea Samman and after a rest, some calls home and a wash and change of clothes, they departed for an evening meal at the British Community Association (BCA) club in Heliopolis. There Norman had blazing hot Fajitas on a lava plate, tried and enjoyed the local lager (Sakara) and met some more ex-pats including David Browett and Safari Magazine editor, Derek Currie, all of whom were amazed by Norman's adventure.

Wednesday the 7th April was to be a sight seeing day. An early start had been arranged with newly found driver and he was on time, 9am, to pick Norman, Anthea and Eddie up from the apartment with the first stop the world famous Giza Pyramids. Norman was able to see some amazing sites and had some adventures there as well and following a midday refreshment break the group continued to the Khan El Khalili, the worlds biggest 'Souk'. This was an amazing experience for Norman as he wandered the myriad of alleys full of thousands of merchants and hawkers selling everything from spices to tacky souvenirs. A meal at a famous Khan restaurant where Norman tried 'Mezza's' (Egyptian salads and dips) along with a dish of Koshari again.

After a full day of sightseeing they returned to the apartment where Ahmed arrived, he hadn't been able to join in the fun due to work commitments, and was able to help Norman with flight planning (the stop at Luxor had to be changed to an arrival at Aswan) and even take him to find some engine oil.


Thursday April the 8th and another early start saw  Norman, Anthea, Eddie and Ahmed returning to October Airport. A quick stop on the way was made to buy petrol cans and some more fuel to make sure that all tanks on the Gyro were full enough for the extra miles to Aswan.

At October it was a team effort to get the Gyro refuelled, the bureaucracy sorted and Norman kitted out ready for take off. Even so, the news that if he hadn't taken off by 12 noon then he would need to pay an extra days fees meant that time was of the essence.

But as the clock approached noon and with less than 5 minutes left, Norman taxied G-YROX out to the taxiway (who needs a runway when time is pressing) and with that famous wave, took off for Aswan. Well, not quite. Airspace rules meant that he had to circle within the airfields perimeter until he reached 8,500ft before he could set off south. A good job the extra fuel had been added as it must have used quite a bit just to get to the leaving point from October Airport.

Norman had hoped to fly past the Pyramids and also to follow the Nile river at low level all the way to Aswan but strict Egyptian airspace regulations thwarted this. Instead he flew almost due south at 8.500ft across the desert for most of the way. The 470 mile flight did have him crossing the large Fayoum oasis and the Nile as he approached Aswan.

He arrived at Aswan International Airport at around 18:00 local time

Norman's reception at Aswan was in marked contrast to the reception he had recieved at October. Even though he had just completed a six hour flight, 99% at 8,500ft, he had to face the inevitable red tape hold ups and his pleas to have the Gyro hangared fell on deaf ears.

But finally he was able to leave the airport and find a taxi driver who would take him and his portable fuel bag to a petrol station to get refuelled. The taxi driver did want to take Norman to 'his very good friend's' petrol station but after setting sight of it Norman decided to forego the pleasure of meeting the drivers friend and probably uploading some very mucky fuel and insisted that he be taken to a modern, clean establishment.

This was agreed but the problem now was that no petrol station in Aswan had 95 octane, so Norman made do with 91 octane and hoped for the best.

Fuel bought and hotel found, Norman settled down for a well earned rest.


 Friday the 9th April and the day Norman was going to leave Egypt and Africa to fly to a new country and continent...Saudi Arabia in Asia.

But things were about to become confusing for the followers watching Norman's progress on the Spot Tracker.

As was posted on the blog, Norman's route was expected to be a straight line from Aswan to Jeddah across the Eastern Egyptian Desert and the Red Sea. And as Norman departed early from Aswan people started to comment that the route that 'Spot; was showing was in fact completely in the opposite direction!

Unbeknownst to the puzzled followers, Norman's intended flight plan wasn't allowed and it turned out that aircraft flying from Aswan were not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia through Jeddah. This meant he had to fly north to join the airway that went from Luxor to Jeddah, an extra 2 hours flying added to the planned four and half hours expected.

The guys who had helped Norman in Cairo were able to answer the queries appearing on the various social media sites and it now became a case of holding a combined 'virtual' breath as Norman finally headed east, across the highest points in Egypt and started the long journey to Saudi Arabia...on 91 octane petrol.

A combined 'virtual' sigh of relief could be heard around the world as after 6 and half hours flying 'Spot' showed that Norman had landed at Jeddah International airport. What 'Spot' didn't show is illustrated in Norman's own words... 

"Landing at dusk into an airport with 3 active runways was the most technical landing I have undertaken so far. We had to clear the city overhead by 5000ft minimum and having been vectored by radar over the threshold was instructed to descend vertically from 5000ft to about 450ft before landing on the intersection (where most of the runway lights were in my peripheral vision); a Gyro of course can do thois with ease" 

Because of the strict immigration rules in Saudi Arabia, Norman was allowed to stop overnight by being given a 24 hour transiting aircrew pass and was taken to a local airport hotel for the night. 

Saturday April the 10th saw Norman return to Jeddah airport early.  

Norman is greeted by Alexandrian contact, Ahmed El Heity at the Aero Club. 

Norman tucks into a dish of Koshari

(all Alexandria photo's courtesy of Ahmed El Heity) 

Norman Discusses all things aviation with local pilots at the Aero Club 

Guest of Honour, Norman, enjoys a photo session in front of the Alexandria Aero Club's trophy cabinet. 

Norman and G-YROX arrive at the very quiet desert airfield of October (HEOC) 

Norman is welcomed at October Airport by Eddie & Ahmed and member of the Egyptian Aviation Academy. L-R Mostafa Ezzo, Norman Surplus, Moemen Shahawy, Eddie Gold and Ahmed Hassan Mohamed 

Norman tucks into a Big Mac as the Egyptian media get their interview 

A big grin appears on Norman's face as a 95 Octane petrol station is finally found 

Norman returns to the October terminal after deciding against flying on to Luxor. 

 Norman outside October Airport with the new driver, Karim

Norman enjoys sizzling hot Fajitas and a cold Sakara at the British Club in Heliopolis while British ex-pat, David Browett looks on 

Norman and Cairo host, Eddie Gold, at the Great Pyramids of Giza 

 A surprised Norman exits the 200 year old El Fishawy cafe in the Khan El Khalil

Collecting extra fuel to make sure that G-YROX can reach Aswan. Ahmed makes sure it's 95 octane! 

Eddie and Karim look on as Norman double checks the fuel system  

A few final words before Norman departs Cairo 

Norman and G-YROX depart October Airport