A Northern Ireland man’s attempt to circumnavigate the globe in an open-cockpit auto gyro aircraft is expected to land him in Maine on Monday.

Norman Surplus, 52, set out five years ago to fly his one-man experimental aircraft around the globe to raise awareness of bowel cancer – and to set a world record.

Surplus plans to depart from Glens Falls, New York, on Monday and is expected to land at Biddeford Municipal Airport later that day, weather permitting.

If all goes according to plan, he will be in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in about three weeks, a historic journey for a craft of its type.

“It will be the first time an auto-gyro has attempted the Atlantic, let alone crossed it,” Surplus said in a telephone interview late Sunday night.

Surplus set off June 1 from Oregon to traverse North America. His journey had been delayed for three years after he reached Japan because Russian authorities did not grant him and his aircraft passage through Russian airspace.

Approval never came, and instead of flying through eastern Russia to reach Alaska, he shipped his craft to the United States to continue the flight.

“It’s a trip around the free world, anyway, which is a pity because the Russian people were very keen to see it.”

On his blog, Surplus said that the red tape and delays caused by bureaucracy “makes the actual flying of the aircraft feel like the most easy aspect of this journey.”

His yellow auto gyro is believed to be the farthest-flying example of the unusual aircraft, which looks like a helicopter but functions much differently. The blades on a gyro aircraft are not powered; the craft moves forward via a rear-facing propeller. The blades spin automatically when the plane moves, generating lift in the process.

So far Surplus has crossed 18 countries, navigating around forest fires, thunderstorms, arid desert and other obstacles.

The copter does not fly at a high altitude, making his route more challenging. He is doing the trip on a small budget, relying on local people to help him wherever he goes.

“It’s not flying around the world in a private jet,” he said. “It’s more like being an aerial hobo.”

From Maine, his journey will continue north toward New Brunswick and along the coast, before he enters the most dangerous stage, flying solo in the elements over long sections of the North Atlantic.

Surplus is using the trip as a way to raise awareness about bowel cancer, which he survived in 2004.

Although he had never piloted any type of airplane before, Surplus decided during his recovery from bowel surgery to learn to fly, after seeing a television show about the restoration of a vintage auto gyro.

“The absolute uncertainty I felt in those months during treatment by far outweighs any uncertainty I may feel about any bureaucratic delays that occur today,” Surplus said in a statement. “I shall remain consistently happy just to be here at all.”