'Round The World Gyro Expedition Underway
Expedition Global Eagle came about
from an idea Barry Jones had back in 2002: It was nothing less than
to become the first person to fly around the world in an autogyro,
the final class of powered aircraft yet to achieve the feat. He
approached his Commanding Officer at 9 Regiment Army Air Corps and
asked permission to set up the expedition. Permission was granted
for him to look into the possibilities of such a trip, which he set
Here's the first in a series of articles from Barry's
newsletter, describing the launch and success to date of the Global
The team had left on the Tuesday to get ready for the press day.
Project Coordinator Pete Taylor was already down in London to start
getting the visas required for the trip.
A lot of interest was generated in the project with Barry
appearing on the news and a lot of publications the next day.
The launch date had been announced
at the press day as being the 21st April 2004 from the Museum of
Army Flying, down in Middle Wallop home of the Army Air Corps.
Again it was another long journey down south for the team on the
Monday preceding the departure date. IT manager Stuart Davies had
left early for a trip across to Monmouth and Allard engineering
before continuing on to Middle Wallop, Keith Wayne and Lee left
early afternoon arriving in the evening.
The Tuesday saw the BBC arrive, the plan was to get some aerial
filming completed on the aircraft before the launch the following
day. Stuart hosted them around the Museum whilst Barry and Lee made
some final checks on the aircraft. The aircraft was brought out
ready to lift, when on start up a fault in the fuel system caused
the engine to start surging, this of course meant the aircraft
could not be flown, so it had to be taken back in to the hangar for
further checks to be carried out.
It soon became apparent that after the second attempt with the
problem still evident that the aircraft would not fly that day,
which meant that pilot Barry Jones had to make a decision on
whether to delay the launch. In aviation we have a saying: "If
there is any doubt there is no doubt." Living by this saying Jones
decided it would be better to delay the trip and also give the
media a chance to reschedule.
Monday 26th April
Barry had stayed down in Middle Wallop with aircraft technician
Andy Wilson and engineer Lee Lawton to make sure the aircraft was
fully up to speed. The remainder of the team had returned to
Dishforth to carry out the administration for the delay.
(Exceprts from Barry's Diary)
I woke at 05:30 and just laid there in my bed thinking about
what I was about to do. Was I wrong, was everyone else right? Was I
completely mad? The transit room was empty, just my washing kit in
a small bag and my sleeping bag gave the room any signature of
being inhabited. I lay there for half an hour just looking at the
walls and picturing thousands of different outcomes to the day that
was before me. I heard Andy moving around his room and then down
the hall before he gently knocked on my door and opened it.
"Is Mrs Jones' little boy ready to take on the world today?"
I smiled at him, Andy was the first person I had ever mentioned
the idea of the world flight to. "Yes Mate, lets do it."
After showering and getting dressed we drove to Middle Wallop
from our Transit rooms in Netheravon and went straight to the
Sergeant's Mess. Coffee was what was needed, I couldn't eat
anything but I needed a coffee. I remember walking in to the Mess
and seeing Stu standing there, he was supposed to have left for
Manston with my Immersion kit at 6am, it was now 7. He just looked
at me seeing the look of anxious shock on my face just said "Chill
Beej I’ll be there by 10am."
I need not have worried sure enough a call came through at 10am
from Stu saying he was in position and all was ready.
I did two radio interviews that morning as I did the 'Mobile
Phone Wander' that walk you only do when you’re deeply
engrossed on the mobile and just end up wandering around in no real
direction. The dew on the grass showing the trail I had taken a
trail that some 'shrink' would no doubt say it showed that I was
mad if they had the chance to comment on it like the doodles that
people do when talking on the phone while sitting at a desk. Andy
and I then went up to Hanger 3 where the Eagle was sitting amongst
the Historic Flight Aircraft that filled one half of the Hanger.
There was a thin mist across the airfield that I could see would
burn off by the time I had to depart so I knew that today was the
At that moment I felt like I was going to be sick. I was annoyed
with myself for feeling that way, here I was, about to begin the
adventure of my life and I was feeling sick about the whole thing.
Surely I should be the most excited and happy person in the world -
but I wasn't. The idea, the very thought of something going wrong
in front of the media was making me breakout in a cold sweat. As
the team arrived and the final titivating was done the media began
to arrive. The officers involved in the setting up of the departure
day started to arrive as did John and Claire from DCC(A).
At twenty to nine I walked over to the assembled media and
started my interviews, some were live, some recorded for use later
but it was a rapid bombardment of questions, often repeated but all
were very supportive. Forty min's of that and I was ready for a
break so Pete took me aside for a cup of tea and space to think. We
chatted and joked about bits that had happened that morning or been
said and then the inevitable serious 'take care' chat. Soldiers
don't like to ponder on it for long but I think it was all the more
serious because I had given a verbal declaration of my Will to Pete
and Kev, (a Police Officer and fellow Gyro pilot) on video camera
filmed by Keith first thing that morning. Enough said.
The moment finally came and I waked along the center line of the
taxi way to my waiting aircraft as the sound of cameras started to
click and people started saying "He's going."
I strapped into The Eagle as the team fussed around me making
sure I was happy and then called, "Clear Prop." I got the thumbs up
from Andy. I pushed the button and prayed that she would start.
Instantly, she barked into life and positively growled at the
watching crowd, I sighed in relief that she had started.
The Blue Eagle display team and an
Apache were now positioning themselves on my port side getting
ready to follow me for the departure run. I watched them, wondering
to myself if this was a pain for them or if they thought what I was
doing was a good thing. Snapping back to reality I checked my
engine instruments and could see that she wasn't ready yet, 5 more
degrees on the water temperature. The crowed were all lined up on
my starboard side and some photographers had moved down the taxi
way to get a shot of me taking off. Deep breaths, keep calm I
thought to myself. One more look at the temperature and I could she
that she was ready. I gently squeezed the Pre-Rotator lever on the
Cyclic and the blades started to turn, faster and faster and before
I knew it they were at 200 RPM and I was ready.
"Middle Wallop Tower, this is Army Air 547 requesting clearance
to depart for a VFR flight around the World."
Clearance was given and I released the lever and the breaks put
full throttle on. She accelerated along the taxiway and then the
nose lifted. I pushed the stick forward and the main wheels lifted
and it had begun.
Climbing away I looked left and back to see the Blue Eagle
transitioning to follow me and I started a wide tear drop turn to
the south of the field before starting a 'fly by' run over the
Museum where the media had gathered. I passed to the west of the
school at the bottom of the airfield and waved a the children who
had all been let out of class to wave as I flew past.
The Museum was surrounded by spectators and press people and I
could see flashes from cameras as I started the final run, 90 mph
on the Airspeed indicator, so I slowed to 80 mph and aimed directly
over the Museum building. The crowed flashed past under me and I
climbed away with a gently turn to the right onto the heading that
will be the main thought in my mind for the next four months,
Tuesday 27th April
Barry woke early on the Tuesday morning, he knew that there
would be no flying today as he waited for the engineer to arrive
from UK. Andy would not be arriving until the following morning as
he had to take the cheapest available option due to a lack of funds
in the project. Many outside the project believe us to have secured
a major financial sponsor but this has not been the case and the
project still runs on a shoe string.
Keith, Lee and Wayne were also at Oostend with Barry getting ready
for the move to Friedrichshafen later that day. The team moved on
to the airfield just to have a look around as a matter of interest
and to wile away the hours before leaving. Later that afternoon the
remaining members of the team in Oostend departed for
Friedrichshafen leaving Barry on his own for the evening.
Wednesday 28th April
Andy arrived this morning soon getting to work on the aircraft,
it did not take him long to fix the radio problem he then spent his
time pouring over the aircraft making sure all was well, we all
knew that today would be written off because of the repairs so once
all this was finished Barry and Andy relaxed for the evening.
Stuart McAlister a professional photographer arrived later that
evening ready to take images of Barry and the departure the
Thursday 29th April
Barry woke early again nerves tingling with excitement ready for
the flight across to Friedrichshafen, he had spent enough time on
the ground and really just wanted to get going. Excitement turned
to dismay as he looked out of the window, mist lay across the
ground with a low cloud base not good flying weather. Barry knew
that the weather was not suitable to fly at that moment, so hurried
over to the met office in the hope of some good news, this was not
to be "another day to be spent on the ground."
Friday 30th April
Today had to be a better day the staff at the met office had
said things would get better today and the IFR only departures
would be lifted from the airfield. Sure enough they were true to
their word. Barry got the Eagle ready for lift, Andy had returned
to the UK the night before so Barry was on his own. Quick check of
everything and he was on his way, great another leg of the journey
started and hopefully to be completed.
The aircraft handled nicely and kept good time as he moved on to
his first refuel at Trier-Fohern this was not one of the original
places to stop but after speaking with the Americans at Spangdahlem
was one which offered just what was needed. By coincidence we had
just received a posting on the message board of the web site
offering us any help that could be offered from Timo who was
actually at Trier-Fohern, the team quickly took this kind offer up
which proved to be far more than we could of imagined.
Barry cruised in to Trier landing, refueling then spending a bit
of time with our hosts, these aviation enthusiasts were fantastic
so interested in the project and many of them pilots of the Magni
Time to move on and complete the journey, the web had a new
addition to it a GPS tracking system which allowed interested
parties to view the aircraft's position as Barry made the
After about an hour and a half of flight Barry saw the Alps looming
up, how small he felt compared with these immovable objects.
Landing at Friedrichshafen Barry was met by the team on the ground,
who made sure the aircraft was refueled and put to bed, before
retiring for the evening.
Saturday 1st May
Today was to be the trip across the Alps in to Italy and the
home of Magni Gyros, disappointment hit again as the team looked
towards the Alps and could not see them. The met forecast gave
winds of over 40 mph with low cloud all day and a good possibility
of thunderstorms 'flying was a no go for today'. Disappointed the
team returned to the accommodation to go over everything again
ready for the next day. The forecast again was not great but was
going to be better than today which meant hopefully we should get
across the Alps to Italy and the Magni factory.
Sunday 2nd May (From Barry's Diary)
We woke at 7am, Keith in the next
bed to me, Lee and Wayne in the next room. Another sponsored night
in the hotel. The weather looked great from the window on the
fourth floor, the Alps still hidden in the early morning haze but
the promise of a nice day filled the air.
I went for a shower, excited at the prospect of the sights I
would get to see today and returned to see that the sky had clouded
over,I felt the depression attack my mood. The weather changes
quickly here so we packed our bags, again, and went down for
breakfast. The restaurant was busy but I saw Keith sitting at a
table for four so I joined him deciding to have some coffee before
I tackled the continental breakfast.
A long day ahead for me and the team but we were excited at the
prospect of crossing into Italy. After breakfast we moved all our
bags to the front door of the hotel and Lee went to get the
Iveco/Lex Van. Just to be on the safe side, Keith decided to
enquire about the possibility of me staying yet another night if we
found that the weather in the Alps was unsuitable. Immediately I
was offered another room, without the bat of an eyelid, it was as
though we were asking a stupid question. Amazing generosity.
An elderly man stood at the counter checking out too. "Do you
have a lift to ze airport?"
"Yes, that's our van" I answered and he commented that he had
missed his Taxi. "You can come with us" I offered.
"You are sure?"
"Of course, sir, we will be outside."
It was nice to be able to give something back as we seemed to be
in the "take take take" position most of the time. Five minutes
later and we were loading the van with the old gentleman's bags and
heading off to the airport.
The old man thanked us and made his way into the airport as
Keith and I went up to Flight Planning to see what the weather was
like in the Alps. Gabby, in the Flight Planning office was more
than helpful,she found us a met route through the Alps and printed
off the weather reports and forecasts. Keith and I studied the
details and concluded that it was a go. I´d reserve Bolzano
as a diversion which was half way along my route and would meet the
team there if for some reason I had been forced to divert.
We rejoined the van and got ourselves cleared to the Flight Line
and drove down to where The Eagle had been hangared along with the
M16 we were returning to Vittorio Magni. Lee and I pushed The Eagle
out onto Dispersal and checked her over. The Re-Fuel Truck arrived
driven by Jurgan, a friendly pro-Brit local who has a huge smile
and a friendly manner about him. He helped us re-fuel The Eagle and
even said he had poor eyesight as he filled in the Fuel Receipt for
me and gave me a wink.
I got dressed into my Flying Kit and prepared to warm up the
engine. As I turned the key and looked for usual responses from the
instruments I noticed that there was in fact, no response, none
what so ever! Gutted and filled with dread I looked at the 25Amp
Circuit Breaker and saw that I had left it in. I closed my eyes and
hung my head low, shaking it in disbelief. How stupid, how
completely and utterly stupid!
"What's up Beej?" Said Lee.
"I've left the Circuit Breaker in, its drained the Battery."
"Oh no, we haven´t got any jump leads."
"I have, Andy gave me a set in Oostend," I said with a smile and
my mood lifted again. It was a serious situation though, if this
happens when i´m in the middle of China it might not be so
easy to solve. We jump-started her using the Van and she roared
into life, as she gently warmed up I went to switch on the Radio to
check I had the right frequency. As I rotated the knob on the
MicroAir 760 I immediately knew the radio had been surged when we
jump started her.
The radio was already on and the power surge had blown the fuse
inside the radio, I was stuck. It was like someone had kicked me in
the teeth and I deserved it! So completely disappointed with myself
I instantly knew that I wouldn´t be flying today. The break
in the weather, the delays I had already had were just 17 minutes
from being put right and now I would have to cancel the flight. I
could actually feel the muscles in my face droop as I took on the
look of a depressed man.
Just to be sure, we switched off the
engine and checked all the connections but I knew what it was. A
phone call to Andy confirmed the symptoms and the flight for today
was over. Jurgan arrived back on the scene and discussed the
problem with Lee, phone calls were made and we soon had the
assurance from a friend of Jurgan, Klaus, that one of his
Electrical Engineers would look at the radio for me first thing in
the morning. Another show of generosity from the German people. I
gave Jurgan the radio and asked him if he would pass it onto
Klaus´s engineer in the morning.
The rest of the team, Keith, Lee and Wayne still had to go to
Italy today to return the M16 to the Magni Factory. They drove me
back to the hotel where I sheepishly collected my room key and said
my goodbyes to the lads.
Alone in my room I felt totally stupid and embarrassed that I
had caused yet another delay. As I stood staring out of the window,
Pete phoned to pass on some good news. It looks like we had
received the offer of a six part documentary about Global Eagle so
I was to film the town a little so that some of the culture could
be captured and used so that it wasn´t just a load of film of
me taking off and landing. It would also be good for the sponsors
and potential sponsors. It was good news and Pete was deliberately
trying to lift my spirits but I still felt stupid.
I washed my other set of clothes in the shower and hung them up
to dry and then went out into the town of Friedrichshafen to film
the area. The town was quite busy, especially by the lake side and
I concluded that if I was going to be stuck anywhere, this was a
nice place for it to happen! As I sat and drank a coffee outside a
cafe, the sky, at last, revealed the Alps to me. I hadn´t
been able to see them since the day I had flown into
Friedrichshafen when Pete had text me in flight to ask if I could
see them, assessing that I could from the position of my Tracker on
the web site, but now they reared up before me.
As I looked at the cloud above them I realized that I was just
looking at the foot hills, for as the clouds shifted a huge,
gigantic mountain top loomed through the gaps and was gone again.
They look daunting, but the sooner I take them on, the better.