Historic plane will be converted into restaurant at I-X Center (photos)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Plans are underway to turn a historic plane into a restaurant at the I-X Center.

The Boeing KC-97G will make its public debut at the I-X Piston Powered Auto-Rama this weekend.

"That plane is the next generation after a B29. After WWII, they created a C97. The C97 was meant to transport troops and equipment to Korea," said Steve Legerski, the show manager.

Although this is the first time the public will get a good look this particular aircraft, it's not the end of the road for it. After the show, it will begin its transformation into a restaurant.

The aircraft was built in the 1950s, one of 888. About 20 of them remain, but only one is in flight. The rest are at air force bases or tourist destinations across the country.

This particular KC-97G has spent the last three decades in Arizona, and it came to Ohio just over a month ago in pieces. A team of experienced mechanics came in from North Carolina to put it back together.

I-X Center Mechanic Rocco Bevelacqua said he's never worked on a plane like this before, but he was surprised at how quickly it came together.

"Actually, this plane was well-built, it was pretty self explanatory," he said. "You've got six bolts on the motor, you have probably 100 and some on each wing. Once you got it in place, it fell together, like a puzzle."

The exact plans for the restaurant have not been finalized, but Bevelacqua estimates they can accommodate about 50 people inside.

As for the next steps, now that the plane's been put back together, the tasks are aesthetic.

"Not mechanics. Cleaning," said Bevelacqua. "A lot of cleaning and getting all this done, putting in, we're gonna put steel in the fuselage all around.  It's going to be really nice."

You can see the plane before its makeover at the I-X Piston Powered Auto-Rama from March 16-18. Tickets are available online or at the I-X Center Box Office for $20. Children 12 and under are free.

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