Charles Lindbergh wrote of an incident in his book, about when they were checking the
fuel level of the original Spirit of St. Louis with a length of rubber hose.
The story was that the rubber hose slipped into the main fuel tank.
They had some discussion as to whether they should just go ahead and leave the hose in
there … or if they should try to find a way to get it out.
Due to the possibility of the hose deteriorating in the fuel, and possibly coming apart and blocking one of the fuel lines, the decision was made to remove the hose.
There is no discussion to be found to tell us HOW they removed that length of rubber hose, leading one to wonder, “… did a rubber hose REALLY fall into the tank?”
John questioned that himself because there is a 90 degree angle in the fuel filler neck, making it difficult to insert a piece of hose into the tank … much less for it to get dropped inside!
That question was one John wanted to answer for himself while we were in
Washington, DC with the original Spirit of St. Louis.
Once again the portable VJ-Advance video borescope camera from RF System Labs
in Traverse City, Michigan came to the rescue.
John ran the borescope camera around the main fuel tank to see what the sides of the tank looked like.
Suddenly, right there between the forward tank skin and the first vertical baffle aft; and
between the top & second horizontal baffles down; John found a “PATCH” in the side of
They had apparently cut a hole in that location in the side of the fuel tank to retrieve the rubber hose.
To repair the hole, they riveted a piece of plate over the hole and soldered around it to make
What did that mean for the JNE Spirit of St. Louis?
Well, to be an EXACT replica aircraft, John was going to have to put a patch in the side of HIS tank as well.
As much as I pleaded with John NOT to put a patch in HIS main fuel tank; John said, “The
original has one, so mine needs one too.”
I argued that he could simply TELL people that there is SUPPOSED to be a patch there, but he didn’t need to put one in because nobody would ever even SEE that patch since that section of the aircraft is covered with fabric!
John replied, “If I’m building an EXACT replica, it needs to be to be there!”
So, John took the time to “patch” his main fuel tank, even though there was no rubber hose for him to remove from HIS tank.
Once John completed the “patch” (seen at the bottom of the fuel tank in the photograph above) he painted the tank to get it ready to put into the fuselage as he continues working on the Final Assembly of his Definitive Reproduction Spirit of St. Louis!