Former Lopez resident builds Spirit of St. Louis replica

As his wife, Heather, looks on, John Norman gets a hug from his daughter Amber Nelson and granddaughter Ashlee Nelson (right) after his replica of the Spirit of St. Louis flew for the first time from Arlington Municipal Airport on July 28. (Andy Bronson / The Herald) Now he builds and sews his own airplanes. His latest is a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis, the single-engine plane that Charles Lindbergh flew nonstop from New York to Paris in 1927 in the first solo trans-Atlantic flight. Norman, a retired Boeing mechanic, has built and restored 32 planes in the past 40 years as a hobby and through his business JNE Aircraft. His Spirit of St. Louis replica, which has been called the most accurate ever made, will be on display at the Arlington Fly-In Aug. 16-18. A public flight is planned for later this month. Norman, who lives in Burlington, Washington, has spent an estimated $1 million to build the replica and devoted more than 10,000 hours to its construction. John Norman’s replica of the Spirit of St. Louis sits in the hangar at Arlington Municipal Airport on July 28. (Andy Bronson / The Herald) Around the time Norman was designing those flare-leg jeans, a high school teache...

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