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British man becomes 1st person to fly around the world on a gyrocopter

LONDON — A British adventurer has become the first person to circumnavigate the globe on a gyrocopter, completing a six-month journey that saw him narrowly escape a lightning strike on Sunday.

James Ketchell traveled 24,000 nautical miles on the miniature aircraft, whose cockpit is exposed to the elements.

He landed at an airport in Hampshire, England on Sunday in front of a crowd of well-wishers.

The 37-year-old’s aircraft had a range of just 700 nautical miles and a maximum speed of 70 knots, meaning his journey was completed in severashort installments.

He traversed mainland Europe and Russia before crossing into Canada and the United States, flying over Greenland and Iceland and stopping for the final time on the Faroe Islands, north of Scotland.

“It’s quite overwhelming, it’s magical,” Ketchell told the PA news agency after landing. “I have seen many amazing sights over the last six months. Probably one of the best is flying into Popham,” he said, referring to the airport at which his journey began and ended.

“It’s an incredible feeling and I just hope that I manage to achieve my challenge and inspire as many people as I can,” he added.

The journey is far from Ketchell’s only feat. He has already rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, climbed Mount Everest and cycled 18,000 miles around the world, according to a press release from his representatives.

A gyrocopter, also known as a gyroplane or an autogyro, is a small helicopter-like aircraft powered by a propeller on its rear rather than blades on its top.

Ketchell’s journey allowed him remarkable bird’s eye views of sites across the globe. He shared some of the most remarkable fly-bys on his social media profiles — including an image of him floating over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

But the journey also featured a handful of hairy moments.

“I was almost struck by lightning and had to attempt an emergency landing on the road,” he told PA of an incident in Canada.

The explorer added that he was pleased it was raining when he landed for the final time. “It shows people that it’s not that simple, flying around the world,” he explained.

“People had a slightly better understanding about what I have been trying to achieve.”

Ketchell has raised more than $11,000 for two charities with the journey.

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