August 22, 2019

Record-Seeking Gyroplane Pilot Now in Canada


Briton James Ketchell is not one to shrink away from challenges in life. After surviving a motorcycle crash in 2007 that resulted in a broken leg and a broken and dislocated ankle, an accident that doctors said would likely leave him with an impaired walking ability, he went on to live a most adventurous life.

In 2010, Ketchell rowed single-handedly across the Atlantic, from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean, in 110 days. The a year later, he scaled Mount Everest. Yet another adventure lured him abroad, this time in 2013, when he headed out on a global bicycle ride, pedalling 18,000 kilometres through 20 countries, averaging 100 km per day.

2015 saw Ketchell embark on another adventure, this time to row 5800 km across the Indian Ocean from Australia to Mauritius, off the east coast of Africa, with funds being raised for charities. However, his rowing partner sustained a head injury requiring medical attention only 320 km into the journey, leading to the cancellation of the attempt.

Not one to sit at home watching television, Ketchell came up with a new fund-raising scheme, this time to circumnavigate the globe in a gyroplane. In March of this year, Ketchell took off from Popham airfield (EGHP) in England on another fund-raising adventure. His journey has taken him to a number of European countries before entering Asia over Russia.

Ketchell crossed into Alaska by traversing the Bering Strait, and entered Canada for the first time in the Yukon. From Whitehorse, he piloted his open-cockpit gyroplane down through British Columbia and re-entered the United States in Washington. He has zig-zagged across the U.S., pausing in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to display his aircraft at AirVenture 2019.

According to his route-tracking website, Ketchell is now in Quebec, flying northeast towards the greatest challenge of his journey, crossing the North Atlantic.

Photo of James Ketchell and G-KTCH on the ground in Tok, Alaska was taken by the author on June 22, 2019. Note the open cockpit and the fuel bladder that occupies the tandem passenger seat.