This is America’s first jet airplane — the P-59 first flown in Oct.1942. Volunteers have spent 10 years restoring it. In 1942, this was a Top Secret project at Edwards AFB. When the dry lake flooded, they had to transport it by road so it was disguised with a dummy wooden propeller on the front and covered with a shroud.Supposedly on the test flight the jet was spotted by pilots getting checked out in P-38s operating from Van Nuys Airport. When the P-38 pilots reported seeing an airplane with no propeller, their account met with skepticism but the story kept circulating, so on a subsequent flight the test pilot of the P-59 supposedly dressed up in a gorilla mask, put on a derby hat and smoked a cigar when in range of the airport. (That’s why the volunteer restoration team all posed with derby’s).When the P-38 pilots got back to the base, they told everyone about the plane with no propeller flown by a gorilla wearing a derby and smoking a cigar.
Of course folks would chalk this up to excessive drinking and tall tales by fighter pilots (Not much has changed) so the plane remained secret.