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'Flying Pancake' Aircraft Comes To Dallas Museum

Flying Pancake
The historic Flying Pancake military aircraft arrived in Dallas on March 27, 2012. It is part of a long-term display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. (credit: Melissa Newton/KTVT/KTXA)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - It looks more like a flying saucer than an airplane, and soon the antique military aircraft known as the 'Flying Pancake' will be on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas. The plane arrived at the museum, near Dallas Love Field, early Tuesday morning.

The Vought V-173 aircraft got its nickname from its flat disc-shape design. "You look at it now and think, what is it? That's why it got the name Flying Pancake," said Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones, President and CEO of the Frontiers of Flight Museum. "And then people began to report UFOs and flying saucers in the air. There was quite a buzz around it when the airplane went out."

The antique experimental plane was built in the early 1940s, flew for the first time in November 1942 and recorded over 190 test flights. It is the only one of its kind in the world. "It was created as a prototype at the end of World War II, to really test short takeoffs and landings," Sutterfield-Jones said.

But the Flying Pancake concept didn't really take off. After the war ended, the plane landed in the Smithsonian warehouse, where it was kept for several decades. When the Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation in Grand Prairie found out about the plane, the group of retirees took up the task of restoring it. "We had to use original materials, that's what the Smithsonian wanted to do," said project manager Dick Guthrie, "the same materials and processes that the original airplane was built with."

"The retirees there working two to three days a week, for a total of eight years, very carefully and lovingly restored this aircraft to the condition you see here," said museum director Bruce Bleakley. "It's going to be a real interesting display that will make people walk in and say 'wow,' and that's what we like to do."

Now, the aircraft that once had people reporting flying saucer sightings is now a sight to see.

The Flying Pancake's official exhibit dedication will be on April 16. It will remain at the Frontiers of Flight Museum for the next 10 years.

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