The Frontier Flyer is no ordinary airplane.

The Frontier Flyer is a hands-on, interactive, portable aircraft that helps teach kids of all ages about aviation and flight. It made its debut at the Museum’s 2015 Gala.

The Frontier Flyer travels throughout the community, makes guest appearances, and is used in the Museum’s STEM Education programs.

Climb aboard and test it out:

  • Sit in the cockpit of the Frontier Flyer and take over the controls.
  • Move the airplane’s control stick and rudder pedals to operate the ailerons, stabilator, and rudder.
  • Watch the control surfaces and see first-hand how the flight dynamics – pitch, roll, and yaw – work together to control the airplane in flight.

Learn about the technology and physics of flight:

  • Parts of the aircraft
  • Four forces of flight
  • Phonetic alphabet
  • Lift equation

From Concept to Reality

The Frontier Flyer started life as a Thorp T-18 two-seat homebuilt aircraft – donated to the Museum by Worthy Warnack.

Extensive modifications were made to the aircraft to prepare it for its new role in the Museum’s education program. With the collaborative efforts and hundreds of hours of hard work by Museum volunteers Joe Swift and Ken Branscome; our friends at Gulfstream; and Car Wrap City, these changes included:

  • Reducing the span and folding capability of the wings
  • Removing the engine
  • Removing the original paint and repainting the entire airplane
  • Designing and wrapping the plane with instructional decals

PLAY VIDEO See photos and the video of the wrapping process

A Brief History About the Aircraft

The Thorp T-18 is a high performance cross-country homebuilt aircraft designed by John Thorp in 1963 that can carry two people and 80 pounds of luggage while cruising at 155 knots.  The unique design afforded the builder a range of powerplants from a Lycoming O-290 (125hp) to a Continental IO-360 (180hp). The aircraft could be easily built from sheets of aluminum and with standard tooling, which made it one of the most popular homebuilt designs of the 1970s and 1980s.

The T-18 is historically significant as one of the first all-metal homebuilt airplanes, and it was the first homebuilt to use the stabilator, or “flying tail” instead of the traditional elevator hinged to a horizontal stabilizer.  First developed by Air Force test pilot Jack Ridley for the supersonic Bell X-1 of the late 1940s, the stabilator has since been used other aircraft from Piper’s line of “Cherokee” light planes to the Museum’s General Dynamics F-16 “Fighting Falcon.”  The T-18 was also the first homebuilt aircraft to fly around the world and to both the geographic and magnetic north poles, feats accomplished by the legendary Don Taylor in the early 1970s.


MWM-TX Award

Frontier Flyer’s
2019 Event Schedule

July 4th Park Cities Parade
July 4, 2019

Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake
July 6, 2019

Fort Worth Alliance Airshow
October 18-20, 2019

Wings Over Dallas WWII Airshow
October 25-27, 2019

Dallas Veteran’s Day Parade
November 11, 2019

Past Appearances

VeteransDay_FarabeAlgor_MrsInternationalDallas Veteran’s Day Parade
with Farabe Algor, Mrs. Texas International

StarWarsDay_169_FOFM2015_cropStar Wars Day at the Museum
with the 501st Legion “Vadar’s Fist”

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