The 91st anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s record-making transatlantic flight has come and gone while Spirit of St. Louis 2, a scratch-built replica of the famous airplane, remains grounded (see “Spirit of St. Louis 2,” March 2018 Aviation History).
SOS 2, as the Spirit of St. Louis 2 is familiarly known, was originally scheduled to retrace Lindbergh’s epic flight in May of this year. However, Robert Ragozzino, pilot and project manager, announced on the project’s website that the flight has been delayed and is now scheduled to depart June 20, 2019.
“It’s always a battle between time, money, weight and safety,” Ragozzino said.
In addition to the postponement, the lease has expired on SOS 2’s 8,000-square-foot hangar at Gnoss Field in Novato, Calif. As a result, the entire project is being moved back to Mustang Field in Yukon, Okla., where it was previously based. Flight testing, originally scheduled for this spring, has also been postponed. One insider claims flight testing will take place this summer, but that seems unlikely given that SOS 2 is currently disassembled and being crated up for shipment.
“The biggest concern was to…make sure that the airplane was finished to the best possible safety condition,” said Marvin Bay, president and CEO of the project.
Project insiders say money is not the problem. Nevertheless, this is the third postponement in three years despite an estimated $1.5 million being spent on the project and nearly 8,000 man hours. In other words, it’s been a long and bumpy road for the SOS 2 project, which started in 1991 when Scott Royer first had the idea.
Over the years the project has hop-scotched from Colorado to Oklahoma, San Francisco to Marin and now back to Oklahoma. Financing and personnel have come and gone, but the project was recently reinvigorated under Ragozzino’s leadership with an influx of capital from Spiros Bouas, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
With the plane estimated to be 80 percent complete, the project seemed to be making progress. But as with a lot of record-making attempts, there are always setbacks. Still, Ragozzino remains confident they can pull it off.
“Clash of personalities has been the most difficult aspect of the project,” Ragozzino said, standing in a half empty hangar surrounded by crates, aircraft parts and SOS 2’s 46-foot-long wing. “We work to a high standard.”
Whether that standard will allow SOS 2 to be ready for the 92nd anniversary of Lindbergh’s flight is anybody’s guess, but in the meantime, Aviation History will continue to track its progress.
For additional information and updates about the project visit: spiritofstlouis2.com