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About this Episode
Hi friends, its Erik here. This interview with Robert Ragozzino really struck a cord with me. I had retraced my Grandfather’s flights in 2002 on the 75th anniversary so I know a fair amount about flying across the Atlantic in a small single engine airplane. Maybe I know too much.
During my preparation and flight training people asked me if I was flying in a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis. I said no, that would be crazy! And besides that, some guy did it 75 years ago. But now we are approaching the 100th anniversary and Robert Ragozzino has built a flyable near exact replica of the Spirit of St.Louis. He is in flight testing and planning to fly it across the Atlantic soon!
I could say Robert is crazy. I’m qualified to say that because I too was crazy enough to do such a flight. However, Robert is imminently qualified. He flew an open cockpit biplane around the world. Roberts personality, candor, and humor shine in this podcast.
There are those that don’t want Robert to do the transatlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis 2 (SOS2) and there are some who are concerned about the risk. My Grandfather faced the same pressure and criticism. The XPRIZE faced a very similar conundrum where the CEO’s and marketing people in a company saw huge potential, but the lawyers could only see their company logo on an experimental rocketship that could explode and damage their reputation. I hate this kind of mentality. We need to be able to take risks in this world or we become complacent and stagnant. I really appreciated getting to know Robert and am behind him one hundred percent.
We hope you enjoy this episode with Robert Ragozzino as much as we did.
Our Favorite Quotes from this Episode
We are handcrafting a near exact replica of the Spirit of Saint Louis.
We all know that crossing the Atlantic in an antique plane is risky. Only a fool would cross the Atlantic in an exact replica.
I took six and a half years to build a 450 Super Stearman and I flew it solo around the world. This is the only solo open cockpit flight around the entire globe. 24 Countries, 54 fuel stops, every ocean, desert, jungle and polar region. Every leg was a challenge, whether it was weather, or maintenance, or machine gun toting guards in Pakistan, or generals sitting behind a desk glaring at you. The bottom line is the world treated me very well. When you show up in a red and white painted plane I was treated very well. It was an unbelievable experience.
The lower you fly [in elevation] the more engaged you are.
The only way to do it is to forge ahead against all odds. You wrestle it and in the end you have a beautiful crafted plane.
At this point in the project I'm very familiar with the risk and the challenge. But the bottom line is, it's The Spirit and we love it.
Next time you plan a family vacation, just try making your car.
The Spirit is a national treasure.
Lyn: What drives you to do this?
Robert: You know there's a song, Don't let your son grow up to be a cowboy. When you hand-feed your child aviation, and the child grows up with a hunger and thirst for aviation, this is where you end up. You have an innate and historic thirst. I find myself turning the lights off in the hanger, looking at the Spirit and asking myself how you get here. How do you get here? You get here because it's a passion. It's not an obsession, it's a beautiful passion. It's way too much work with very little reward. It's comical the things people will say about an endeavor like this, but the strength comes from within. Why do you do it? You do it because you love airplanes.
It's cliché, but follow your dreams.
Mentioned in this Episode
New York Times Op Ed, Charles Lindbergh should go to jail because his flight was too risky.
John Norman's definitive exact replica of the Spirit of Saint Louis.
Circumnavigation of the globe in an open cockpit plane.
About Robert Ragozzino
A professional pilot, aircraft builder, and aviation world-record holder, Robert joined the SOS2 project in 2002. In 1994, he founded the Stearman World Flight Team, which produced a magnificent, highly modified, Super 450 Stearman biplane. In 2000, Robert flew the Super Stearman around the world., a flight which set the record for the only solo open cockpit flight ever around the world.
Robert serves in multiple capacities, including aircraft specification and design, fundraising, marketing, general project management and board membership. He will pilot the SOS2 aircraft across the Atlantic.
About Erik and Lyn Lindbergh
Erik and Lyn are the co-hosts of The Lindberghs Podcast. Learn more about Erik at: https://www.eriklindbergh.com and Lyn at: https://www.couchtoactive.com
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