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The Flying Thistle arrived on Sodor as a visiting engine. Percy was the first to meet him, but the other engines did not think he was real at first. He arrived to run an express line that had not been used in a while. While running it, he broke down and was helped back by Donald. He was later cheered up by Gordon.
Bill and Ben once mistook him for Gordon, due to their similar appearances.
The Flying Thistle is based on an LNER A3 pacific. Gordon and Flying Scotsman are other members of this class.
The Flying Thistle is painted red with yellow lining and has a crest painted on the sides of his tender. He has yellow nameplates with his name in black mounted on his middle wheel arch on either side.
- In his first appearance, the Flying Thistle had a face, but in his second and final appearance, he was faceless.
- The Flying Thistle's name may possibly be a combination of the Flying Scotsman and the A1/A3 Pacific, Knight of the Thistle. Flying Scotsman became the only A1/A3 preserved, and Knight of the Thistle, later renamed to just Knight of Thistle in December 1932, who was built in 1924 and entered service in August of that year, later being withdrawn and sold for scrap in June 1964.