Man flew 7300km in gyrocopter

Grant McFarlane’s amazing flying machine.
Grant McFarlane’s amazing flying machine. Contributed

MORANBAH man Grant McFarlane flew 7300 kilometres solo to Perth and back in his homemade gyrocopter - sending flying enthusiasts scurrying for the record books.

Mr McFarlane flew to Perth for the National Gyrocopter Championships, which were held over the Easter weekend, and brought home the Grand Champion trophy.

Australian Sports Rotorcraft Association (ASRA) president Murray Barker, who was Mr McFarlane's first flight instructor, said to fly across the country solo was a huge endeavour to embark on.

"It would certainly be a record flying unassisted," Mr Barker said.

"People have travelled around Australia but with company and back-up support, but to do it solo is a huge effort."

After a week of planning Mr McFarlane, an underground electrician, started his four-day journey across the country just five days after Cyclone Ului.

Travelling 300 feet (91m) above the ground at an average of 65 knots an hour (130km/h), Mr McFarlane spent 91 hours in the air and made 35 pit stops.

Mr McFarlane flew across Queensland and the Northern Territory before landing in Perth. On his eight-day homeward journey he travelled across South Australia and the south-west end of Queensland.

"I left just after the cyclone hit so I had great tail winds behind me," Mr McFarlane said.

"In general I had pretty good flying weather to and from Perth with only one wet day and three hours of fog following the wet day.

"I love the outback so I saw the trip as a good opportunity to see the country from the air.

"I loved landing the plane in the afternoon, being in the middle of nowhere and sleeping under the stars."

Once in Perth, the father of two attended the annual six-day National Gyrocopter Championships.

He won first place for the longest distance travelled, first place in the navigation exercise and third place in the spot landing exercise - making him the overall winner of the championships.

"I was quite surprised as I have only had my gyrocopter licence for four years and there were a lot more experienced people competing," he said.

Mr McFarlane said it had not been a hard trip to plan.

"People think it would be hard to fly the distance that I did but the biggest gap between fuel access was 370km and I can get that out of a tank," he said.

"It was quiet easy really. It wasn't like I was on horseback and needed to know where and when the next water supply was going to be; and I have full trust in my gyrocopter - they are a very safe machine."

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