Zimmer’s Skimmer

Seven decades after it first flew, the V-173 got its old look back.

(Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation Archives)

In 1939, aerodynamicist Charles Zimmerman, who had joined Chance Vought two years earlier, built a two-foot-long, electric-powered model, the V-172 (above), to test his theory of a flying disk. His later creation, the V-173, had its roots in a 1933 competition at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (where Zimmerman then worked) for a civilian lightplane that would hover like a helicopter. Zimmerman's design—nicknamed the Flying Pancake, Flying Flapjack, and Zimmer's Skimmer—won the competition with its aerodynamic excellence and sound engineering. But NACA rejected the idea for further development because it was "too advanced." 

Seventy years later, a group of Flying Pancake aficionados in Texas set out to restore the V-173 to its original lustre. 

See the gallery below for more pictures of the original Flying Pancake and its restoration.

Full-Scale Model

(Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation Archives)

A full-scale model of the V-173 Flying Pancake is tested at the NACA wind tunnel in Langley, Virginia, in December 1941.

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