BETHANY, Okla. (KFOR) — The airplane is looking more and more like the original with each passing day, with every cowling panel, with every cable and every tail assembly.
“The struts, the fabric, it’s all original,” says pilot Robert Ragozzino.
He and master mechanic Heiko Banks have been working on the Spirit 2 just about nonstop for months now, getting ready to fly it for the first time.
“We’re always doing something,” says Banks.
Robert counters, “Actually I find this aircraft getting more beautiful by the day.”
We first met Ragozzino piloting another plane, a Super 450 Stearman.
He flew it around the world in 2000, the only pilot ever to make that kind of trip in an open cockpit.
The idea to recreate Lindbergh’s flight followed soon after – to recreate the 1927 Spirit of St. Louis as close to the original as possible, then fly from New York to Paris, 3,600 miles, 33 1/2 hours, nonstop.
“I call it following in the footsteps of greatness,” he states.
This project took a lot longer than Robert thought it would, the build, the fundraising, the details, everything.
Ragozzino continues, “It turned out to be a huge responsibility.”
But the Spirit 2 is within days of its first test flight, a big next step to the final goal.
“We really pulled together on this last effort,” he says. “It’s just about ready to fly.”
Years ago, Ragozzino talked about what it might be like to spin the prop for the first time on his replica airplane.
Someday very soon he’ll get that chance only to plan for a much longer flight in the months to come.
The Spirit 2 is undergoing its final assembly and checkout at Associated Aero Service at Wiley Post Field.
For more information on the project, go to https://spiritofstlouis2.com/.