As new generation of experts prepares the historic Spirit of St. Louis aircraft for a revamped Smithsonian exhibit, they're discovering some long-held secrets.

The 89-year-old Spirit of St. Louis was flown by Charles Lindbergh in 1927 on the first nonstop solo trans-Atlantic flight. Conservator Malcom Collum tells the Washington Post (http://wapo.st/28ZrnbU) experts have been restoring it for the new "Milestones of Flight" gallery.

Among their discoveries was a patched hole inside the fuel tank. This corroborates a story that a rubber hose was accidentally dropped inside and had to be retrieved by cutting a hole in the tank.

Collum also found a note underneath a cockpit floorboard left by restorers Pat Williams and John Cusack in 1975. He says the plane is "almost like a sacred space."

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Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com