Also view the story of the World Range Record....Read More
Expedition Global Eagle came about from an idea Barry Jones
had back in 2002 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 about
most ideas, at the time it seemed like an easy task to
accomplish but Barry was soon to find this was far from
the truth. The Army’s then Chief of the General
Staff (CGS), General Sir Michael Walker, visited the
Regiment and was shown Barry's idea for the expedition.
After a long chat with Barry he agreed to become the
expedition’s patron. By that point, Barry had managed
to acquire a gyroplane from South Africa which had "Grounded
due to severe neglect" stamped across its log book.
Meanwhile, Barry had been offered help with the project from a friend, Paul
Jones, who set about organising possible sponsors of the project, planning
the route and making sure Barry was in the right place at the right time (no
But Barry’s aircraft was still at that point unusable, and an engineer
was needed who could rebuild it and get it passed through stringent British
aviation inspections. Andy Wilson was just the man. Some months earlier, Andy
had prevented a catastrophe when, due to his diligent nature and pure professionalism,
he spotted a fault on a Lynx helicopter and investigated further. He found
a tail rotor drive shaft ready to break, with potentially fatal consequences
had the helicopter taken off. It was for this reason that Barry asked Andy
if he would be his engineer, as he would trust him with his life anytime.
Donald, a friend of Andy's and a very good soldier, was
brought into the project by Andy to help him rebuild
the aircraft. Jim was soon tasked in other areas of the
project by Barry, due to his hard working and amazing
skill of making things happen.
The body of the aircraft was sent away to Jo Taylor of Brushworks
who completed an amazing work of art on the shell. Jo also
made the first Global Eagle web site, which gave Barry the
chance to start showing off his project to the world.
In September 2002 Barry approached Stu Davies to see if he
could help with changing the web site. He rebuilt the site,
adding new features, and also started looking at the media
and PR side of the project.
The aircraft continued to be worked on in Andy and Jim's
spare time, although an initial idea of flying the Coney
Doolittle race over in America was cancelled as the aircraft
was still in the construction stage. Barry completed an extensive
programme of school visits across the country and his thoughts
began to turn to his attempt on the world autogyro range
record, which he hoped to complete in January 2003.
Christmas passed, and while the rest of the unit was on leave
the Global Eagle team continued working. Paul visited Netheravon
and started to apply for international clearances in preparation
for the round the world trip. The remainder of the team geared
up for the forthcoming range record, and with the aircraft
nearing completion things seemed to be moving well. Of
course a few spanners were thrown into the works along the
way, but these only made the team more determined to
make things work. Stuart set about finding a manufacturer
who could produce the long range fuel tank, and the team
soon became the proud owners of what can only be described
as a work of art.
With the aircraft now finished, all that remained was to
get all the modifications passed then flight test the aircraft
and get its permit to fly. However this proved to be too
much to achieve in the short space of time we’d given
ourselves (we all make mistakes but do we learn from them).
As a result the range record was delayed until February.
Help was at hand with the ever-increasing workload, as the
team welcomed Pete Taylor and Keith Davies on board.
It was at this time that Barry decided to re-role the team
a bit to divide the workload fairly. Pete took on the role
of effecting the movement of kit and bodies for the world
trip, other than for America which Jim had already cleared.
Keith took on the PR role and set about putting in place
a new filing system and also creating a room where we could
meet and greet guests instead of using the office.
Popular Flying Association (PFA) passed all of our modifications
and we obtained a permit to fly from the Civil Aviation
Authority with only days to go until the start of the
range record. Barry took off from Culdrose in Cornwall
and successfully flew non-stop to Wick in Scotland, a
total of 580 miles. For full details of this fantastic
achievement, pop across to the shop and purchase the
DVD of the World Range Record.
With the range record in the bag and most of the organisation
in place for the world trip, the team started taking a more
active part in getting out and meeting the public. However,
concerns were starting to be raised with regards to the situation
in the Middle East, and it was decided and agreed at a high
level that it would not be possible to depart until at least
June 2003. This meant a major rethink of the plan, as clearances
would need to be reapplied for and numerous other things
Barry had another re-role of the team which saw Pete take
over from Paul as project co-ordinator, leaving Paul with
more time to concentrate on the route. Keith applied to various
councils for permission to show the gyro at the shopping
centres, Jim and Andy stripped and rebuilt the aircraft again
after the range record and Stuart set about redesigning the
logo at Barry's request. He also started to put together
a promotional pack in the hope of being able to entice a
major sponsor, which the team still found itself without.
The team had now visited a few different town centres and
had plans to show off Global Eagle on Easter Sunday 2003
at the kind invitation of Elvington Air Museum near York.
The team attended the same museum as part of the celebrations
of 100 years of powered flight on 8th June.
Barry, Jim and Andy visited Pirbright in April 2003 to show
the aircraft and give a talk on the project to Army recruits
undergoing basic training. The weekend was a great success
and on Monday, Andy moved ahead to the Royal Electrical and
Mechanical Engineers (REME) training depot at Arborfield
to meet Barry and Jim to collect a cheque from the REME towards
Now, over two years from its original inception,
the Global Eagle Round the World Challenge is almost ready
to go. Current
plans are for a launch date of Monday 26th April 2004 from
the Museum of Army Aviation at Middle Wallop, Hampshire – regular
updates will be available on this web site as Barry progresses
round the world.