John Norman’s replica exact replica of the Spirit of St. Louis leaves the hangar at Arlington Municipal Airport on July 28. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

John Norman’s replica exact replica of the Spirit of St. Louis leaves the hangar at Arlington Municipal Airport on July 28. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Spirit of St. Louis replica to make its first public flight

A replica of the plane that Charles Lindbergh flew will take off Sunday from the Arlington airport.

ARLINGTON — A local replica of the Spirit of St. Louis, the airplane that Charles Lindbergh flew nonstop from New York to Paris in 1927, will make its first public flight at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Arlington Municipal Airport.

It’s a chance for folks to get “up close and personal with the beautiful bird,” said John Norman, the plane’s builder.

Like the original Spirit that Lucky Lindy piloted on the first solo trans-Atlantic flight, the replica has no brakes, no fuel gauge and no front window.

Norman, a retired Boeing mechanic, has built and restored 32 planes in the past 40 years as a hobby and through his business JNE Aircraft in Burlington.

Pilot Ron Fowler plans to circle the airport “so that folks can see the aircraft the entire time she’s in the air,” Norman’s wife, Heather said.

“He’ll make some low passes to provide photo opportunities. Then he will land and bring the aircraft over to the ramp on the east side of the airport.

The Spirit replica has flown five times since its initial test flight at the end of July.

Pilot Ron Fowler takes John Norman’s replica of the Spirit of St. Louis on its first flight and circles around Arlington Municipal Airport on July 28. Norman’s replica is considered the most accurate replica made so far. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Pilot Ron Fowler takes John Norman’s replica of the Spirit of St. Louis on its first flight and circles around Arlington Municipal Airport on July 28. Norman’s replica is considered the most accurate replica made so far. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Since then the couple have spent their time, “chasing down a few noises coming from the engine,” Heather said.

The problem was that not all of the original 1926 engine’s nine cylinders were firing.

This week they think they may have solved the rattle.

The carburetor needed a gasket replaced, so John made one, Heather said.

Norman’s Spirit of St. Louis replica has been called the most accurate ever made. It cost an estimated $1 million to build and and more than 10,000 hours to construct.

It took seven years to complete the replica, including three trips to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., to study the original.

To learn more about the Spirit, read the full story in The Daily Herald.

To view the first public flight, visitors should go to the Arlington airport’s main entrance at 18204 59th Ave NE in Arlington.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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