Tag Archives: Goodwill tour

Cowling Gold

We have had many discussions with many different aircraft enthusiasts over the few short years John has been building his Spirit of St. Louis replica.  

In those discussions the topic of just what “time frame” John wants his replica to represent has come up over and over again.  

We have heard a lot of different ideas why he should build it to represent a certain time frame over another time frame and the differences that would entail in the actual construction of the aircraft.  

Each time frame has minor differences in the overall appearance of the aircraft.  

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There are those who wanted to see it built to resemble what it looked like when it left the Ryan factory in San Diego …

  • with a “jeweled” nose spinner
  • and balsa-wood fairing on the tail skid 
The completed Spirit of St. Louis in 1927 in San Diego, CA

The completed Spirit of St. Louis in 1927 in San Diego, CA

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While others wanted to see it built to resemble what it looked like when it left Roosevelt Field in New York the day it commenced its flight across the Atlantic …

  • During Charles Lindbergh’s flight from San Diego to St. Louis and then on to New York, the original “jeweled” nose spinner cracked.  It was removed and replaced with another one in New York prior to departing for his famous flight across the Atlantic.  
  • The balsa-wood fairing on the tail skid also failed and was removed.

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Some wanted to see it built to resemble what it looked like when it flew around the United States after returning from Europe …

  • By the time it returned from Europe, the fabric on the aft section of the aircraft had been replaced with Linen after the crowds in Paris had cut and/or torn pieces of the original cotton fabric off the airplane when it landed at Le Bourget field.  

spirit-in-france-with-holes

  • Lindbergh also made the decision to change the size of the tires he had on the aircraft during the USA tour.

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Then there were others who wanted to see it built to resemble what it looked like during the Central and South American Goodwill tour.

  • Before leaving on the southern Goodwill tour, flare tubes were added just aft of the pilot seat that extend below the belly fabric in order that Lindbergh could release parachute flares to light the area below if he had to make a nighttime landing at any time along the tour.  
By Raul654 - CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=134836

By Raul654 ~ Washington DC, May 7, 2005, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=134836

  • Flags were painted on the cowling in each country Lindbergh stopped at during that tour.  

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John has always wanted his Spirit of St. Louis replica to look JUST LIKE the one the public is able to view today as it hangs in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC

  • John has cut the Grade A cotton fabric at the same position the French cut in Paris, and he has stitched Irish Linen to the remaining cotton and covered the aft section of the aircraft with Linen.
  • He has the same 30 x 5″ tires on his replica that are on the original today.
  • He has added flare tubes to his Spirit replica.
  • John will be painting all the different flags on his cowlings that we see on the original Spirit of St. Louis cowlings.
  • Over time, the cowlings on the original Spirit of St. Louis have changed from the silver that we see in photographs taken in 1927 to a sort of gold color that we see on her today.  Close inspection of the cowling makes it clear that some sort of finish was put on the cowlings when they were new, before anything was painted on them.  To date, the conservationists at the Smithsonian at Udvar-Hazy have still not determined exactly WHAT that finish was composed of.

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So John has been experimenting with different substances to try to find just the right combination to obtain the “golden” effect we see on the original Spirit of St. Louis cowlings.  

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I think he has succeeded ~

9-3-16 Spirit with bungies and gold cowledited