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In conventional recording, tape wraps a cylindrically contoured head. The authors describe an implementation in which tape contacts a flat-profile bidirectional recording head. Magnetic transducers are located away from the air-scraping edges in the region of uniform head-tape spacing. Optical measurements on glass heads confirm intimate contact between head and smooth media below approximately 3 m/s. Wallace spacing losses show an increase with tape speed, but contact is still evidenced by head wear at 6 m/s. Air leakage and tape mechanical effects lift the tape edges. The width of the lost-contact region is controlled by the design. Flat heads are fabricated using hard-disk-drive head materials, methods, and facilities, and are implemented in the IBM TotalStorage 3580 Linear Tape Open Ultrium drive.