John Norman has always been interested in things that fly!
As a young teenager he built a kid-size toy airplane for his young friends to play in.
In high school he enrolled in Aeronautics class to learn about flying and soloed at the age of 16.
He was trained in aircraft mechanics while serving in the US Navy during the Vietnam era where he worked primarily on the Lockheed Orion P-3 which they called the "sub-chaser".
John built his first airworthy airplane, a replica 1933 Pietenpol Air Camper, in the early 1980's. That was the beginning of his career in building, restoring and re-creating aircraft of all shapes and sizes, all around the world.
During the late 1980's he worked for United Airlines in the San Francisco Bay area. He worked primarily on the Boeing 747 modifications, but he also worked on the Boeing 737s, the DC-10s and Lockheed L1011 TriStars in United's fleet.
It was during this period that he acquired two Boeing Stearman aircraft projects. These projects became the catalyst for John to open his first business ... building Stearman wings.
Once he left United and returned 'home' to the Pacific Northwest, he built a shop and expanded his business to include maintenance and restoration of General Aviation aircraft. He has worked on just about every make of small, single-engine aircraft made ... but his favorites are the older ones ... wrapped in fabric ... and dragging their tails behind them!
In 1994 during a visit to see his parents who had moved to Tombstone, AZ, John visited the US Army Intelligence base at Fort Huachuca where he ended up going to work for a civilian aviation contractor. That position found him responsible for maintaining a fleet of Blackhawk & Huey helicopters as well as their Skymaster 337 and O-2 fixed-wing aircraft.
Two years later John was leading a team of mechanics as they installed satellite communications systems in the newly acquired Boeing 767s for Al-Italia airlines in Rome, Italy and Luton, England.
Once back in the United States he went to work as Director of Maintenance for a company headquartered at Paine Field in Everett, WA. Here he gained even more experience on a variety of multi-engine aircraft including the Beech-18, Beech-99, C-46, DC-3 and the Swearing Metroliner.
Through the FAA representative responsible for the county in which he worked, John learned of a unique opportunity with a private collection of vintage aircraft in the area.
He became Project Manager where he oversaw the partial restoration of a Boeing B-17-E as well as helping to maintain a variety of airworthy, historic aircraft including their Curtiss Jenny, P-40 Tomahawk, Feiseler Storch, Hawker Hurricane, Illyushin II, Polykarpov Rata, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-51 Mustang and more.
In 2017, after a cumulative 12-years, John retired from the Boeing Company. He had been an inspector on the 777 in the Final Body Join section in the late 1990's, but came back in 2007 as a Pre-Flight and Delivery Inspector for the 787 Dreamliner.
In 2019 he was called back to help maintain the Boeing 737s that were being stored in Moses Lake, WA when the fleet was grounded after two fatal crashes. He stayed there until the Covid pandemic brought life as we knew it to a halt. At that point he decided he would rather be 'shut in' at home rather than half a state away from his family.
Once again in the fall of 2021 Boeing reached out to see if he would be willing to return one more time?
He agreed if they would guarantee the position would be in Everett ... second shift ... on the flight line with the aircraft he was most familiar with, the 787 Dreamliner! They agreed and he returned, knowing it is just a temporary position.
All through the years, even though he was working for other employers a good portion of the time, John continued to work in his own shop during his "off" hours. In 2003 he purchased the wreckage of 3 different Hawker Hurricanes that had been salvaged in Russia. After spending more than 9000 hours over 9 years restoring the Hawker Hurricane AM274, John sold the project to a family in Belgium in order to make room for the project he had always wanted to build:
The definitive reproduction Ryan NYP most commonly known as: 'The Spirit of St. Louis by JNE'