This is a reproduction
of the aircraft that Charles Lindbergh flew from New York
to Paris in 1927.
When Lindbergh went on a search for someone to
build him an airplane to compete for the to win the $25,000
Orteig Prize, he settled on the Ryan Aircraft Company
in San Diego, California.
Designed by Donald Hall to Lindbergh’s’ specifications,
the aircraft was built in less than 60 days.
It was now April. Winter weather over the North Atlantic would be improving soon
and several competitors were already getting ready on
Long Island. The
Spirit was completed and after some test flying, Lindbergh
headed out east for his first cross-country stop.
Leaving on May 10, 1927, he flew all night, over
the Rockies, and arrived in St. Louis the next morning.
Lindbergh wanted to show the plane off to the businessmen
that had backed the airplane.
Leaving that afternoon he arrived at Long Island
the next day. After
a week of getting the airplane ready and waiting for the
weather to break and on May 20, Lindbergh and the Spirit
of St. Louis headed off in the morning mist.
33 ˝ hours later he arrived in Paris, the evening
of May 21st, to a crowd of 100,000 people.
Overnight he became the most famous person on the
About a dozen Spirit replicas have been
built and flown.
Several for the 1957 movie “Spirit of St. Louis”,
with Jimmy Stewart and others for museums around the country.
The original Spirit of St. Louis aircraft hangs
proudly at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington
D.C. as a reminder of what the courage and will of one
man can do.
was built in the mid-1980’s by Dave Cannavo in Dover,
acquired the aircraft in 1995 and flew it home to Fantasy
of Flight. In
May of 2002, Kermit participated in the re-enactment of
the 75th anniversary of the historic flight.
Using the E.A.A.'s Spirit from Oshkosh,
Wisconsin, Kermit landed at Lambert Field 75 years later,
to the minute. Lindbergh
had originally taken-off from Roosevelt Field, but the
site is now a giant shopping mall and Kermit was forced
to re-enact the New York take-off from the closet airport,
Republic Field about 10 miles away.
The next day, Kermit arrived in this Spirit
at Fantasy of Flight at 3:22pm (10:22pm Paris time)
to a crowd of press and patrons.
Plans are to continue to make this aircraft
more like the original.
New wire wheels and a tailskid have been made,
as the original did not have brakes.
We have collected all of the original instruments
and one-day hope to install the original Wright J-5 engine.
Why did they build
it so the pilot could not see out of it to fly?
When Lindbergh sat down with Donald
Hall to design the Spirit, the first thing they
needed to know was how much fuel would be required.
Lindbergh had already decided that there was a
better chance of success with just one pilot in a single-engine
Wright J-5 engine was chosen because it was the most reliable
engine at the time.
Using the known fuel consumption of the engine,
and the estimated speed the plane would fly at, they calculated
that they would need over 400 gallons of fuel plus some
they had to figure out where they were going to put all
For an airplane to fly safely it must
be balanced properly.
Since the pilot would be there for the take-off
and the landing, he could be considered as fixed weight
in the design. However,
fuel was a different story.
On take-off the aircraft would have over 2500 lbs.
of fuel but on landing the fuel weight could be close
to zero! The
solution was to put all the fuel in the center of gravity
of the aircraft so the balance of the airplane would not
change whether is was full or empty.
The center of gravity needed to be about 1/3 of
the way back of the wing chord from the front of the wing.
3 tanks were located in the wing at this location,
and 2 tanks were located in the fuselage directly under
the center of gravity.
The only room left for Lindbergh in the fuselage
was behind the fuel tanks.
Most early aircraft did not have good
forward visibility and that’s how Lindbergh learned to
fly. An attempt
to help the situation by putting a periscope in the left
side proved worthless.
In flight, the pilot must slightly weave from side
to side, looking out the side windows to see where he
is going. Landing
is another big issue.
Because of the location of the seat, and the width
of the fuselage, the pilot cannot physically stick his
head out the window to see.
By slipping the aircraft sideways prior to touchdown
the pilot can line up with runway the best he can.
Since you can’t land sideways, the pilot at the
last minute must take out the “slip”, hope he is lined
up with the runway and by looking straight ahead at the
panel, can use peripheral vision out the side windows
to touch down and keep the aircraft straight.
It is not easy and every landing has a high “pucker”