40th Anniversary Celebrations!

40th Anniversary Celebrations!

OMG - we're turning 40!

Happy 40th birthday to the Air Zoo! On November 18, 1979, when the Air Zoo first opened its doors to the public, founders Pete and Sue Parish laid the foundation for what has become one of the most entertaining and educational aerospace and science experiences in the world and we have been growing ever since; not only in size and collection but in reach, scope and purpose as well.  This year is all about celebrating those memories and milestones.  It just so happens that 2019 also commemorates the 75th Anniversary of D-Day as well as the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!  So as you can see, we have a whole lot to celebrate this year! We hope you will join us!

We encourage you to visit our calendar often and to sign up for our enews so you don't miss a thing this anniversary year.  See below for a sneak peek at some of the monthly events we have in store! 

 We look forward to seeing you soon!


JANUARY - Anniversary Celebration Blast-Off

January opens the doors to 2019 and the Air Zoo’s 40th anniversary of operations!  With new exhibits and events we invite you to plan your whole year with lots of visits to experience all the celebrations.  Read on for more information!

FEBRUARY - Game Changers Opens

With technological advancements, such as motion sensing and audio developments, our video gaming experience has evolved significantly from the first PONG to the photorealistic, immersive games of today. Join us as we look at what shapes the gamers' experiences and explore how innovations have transformed the way we interact with computer technology.  Learn more!

April - Memories & Milestones: 40 Years of the Air Zoo Exhibit Opens

Memories and Milestones: Forty Years of the Air Zoo
Guess who’s turning 40? In 2019, the Air Zoo celebrates four decades of flight and family; people, planes, and programs; spacecraft and science; education and exhibitions! Please join us as we flip through forty years of Air Zoo scrapbooks in our special anniversary exhibition Memories and Milestones. We’re pulling out some Air Zoo firsts, including the first admission tickets, and looking back at the early days through an array of vintage photographs.

Explore the story of our co-founders, Sue and Pete Parish, and learn about the first objects that made up our collection—all too big to fit in an archival box! Recall the thrill of our High On Kalamazoo air shows, including the iconic Cat Flight! We’ll introduce you to the famous faces that have visited us and to the people who’ve made and make the Air Zoo soar. Add your favorite Air Zoo memories to those of our staff, interns, and volunteers and thumb through all sorts of Air Zoo history with our digital scrapbook. Highlights include a look at the growth of our education programs, attractions and exhibitions, restoration efforts, archives, collections, and library. Stories begin in the Flight Innovation Center main hall, and extend throughout our entire site. Come see where we’ve been and what we’ve got planned as we look ahead to the next 40 years!

APRIL - Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards Gala

Science Innovation  Hall of Fame (SIHOF) Awards Gala:

We are excited to be hosting our 6th annual Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards, which will take place on Saturday, April 13, 2019. Combined with the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, this festive and interactive event recognizes and encourages West Michigan high school students, K-12 level educators, and local organizations and individuals who have innovated and excelled within, or shown exceptional support of, education in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM). In order to remain competitive in today’s global economy, it is critical for our youth to excel in these vital disciplines. With over ninety innovative educational programs, including classes, camps, field trips, and off-site outreach, the Air Zoo is spearheading STEAM initiatives in our region and highlighting local careers available in these important fields. Our hope is that the Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards play a major role in encouraging local students and educators to embrace STEAM education, ultimately helping to ensure a thriving local economy for years to come.

MAY - SW MI Cultural Exchange Month

Super member perk! For the month of May, members of the Air Zoo will receive free admission to several collaborating Kalamazoo institutions, including the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Gilmore Car Museum, Binder Park Zoo, the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary and Manor House* and the Kalamazoo Nature Center during May as part of our Southwest Michigan Cultural Exchange collaboration! 

Membership sure DOES have its privileges!

JUNE - D-Day 75: En Route by Plane & Parachute Exhibit Opens

D-Day 75: En Route by Plane and Parachute
The Allied invasion of northern France on June 6, 1944—the largest seaborne invasion in world history—required air power and air defense for success. As America reflects on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Air Zoo presents an exhibition which explores the invasion through the lens of all things air.

Visitors will see D-Day through the eyes of POWs, glider pilot Darlyle Watters and paratrooper George Rosie, and through artifacts from the Air Zoo’s collection, including aircraft in the Flight Innovation Center, such as the P-47 Thunderbolt, C-47 Skytrain, and WACO CG-4A. View P-47 gun camera footage, find out what paratroopers wore as they leapt from C-47s, and get to know how Allied forces hauled men, machines, and medicine to Normandy in the sky in what some called a “plywood coffin” during that historic operation.

Local and Michigan-based companies who supported air power and defense will be featured, such as Gibson Guitars. Uncover the secret to the paratrooper’s boot heel. Learn how invasion stripes helped pilots fend off friendly fire when the skies were awash with aircraft and find out how many stripes you can “paint” against a ticking stopwatch! You’ll leave aware of how essential pilots, planes, and parachutes were to Allied success.

In conjunction with opening weekend, visitors will also have the opportunity to see the Yankee Air Museum’s pristine Boeing B-17G “Yankee Lady.” Tours of and rides on this World War II aircraft will be available through Yankee Air Museum.

JULY - Apo11o Exhibit Opens

The Apollo 11 moon  landing, which put the first two humans on the moon on July 20, 1969, not only made history but also served as a moment shared by a nation. Today, many Midwesterners recall tuning in on the evening of the NASA broadcast as the lunar module, the Eagle, came in for a landing (hence, "The Eagle has landed!").  To celebrate 50 years since that cosmically cool lunar adventure, we’ll recreate that nationally-shared, public memory with a typical suburban living room plucked right out of the summer of ‘69! Relax on the sofa with your family and watch the moon landing broadcast on a console TV. Explore the Apollo 11 story inside and outside the immersive living room. Find out about the teamwork it took to put two people on the moon and learn more about the ways the space program impacted American life in the late 1960s and how it shaped the technologies we know today.

AUGUST - National Aviation Day Open House

Join us for our second year of celebrating National Aviation Day.  

In honor of National Aviation Day the Air Zoo's Flight Discovery Center (Milham Rd.) will be open to the public at no charge from noon to 5pm. The Air Zoo will observe normal general admission at the Flight Innovation Center on Portage Rd.

At the Flight Discovery Center:
• Enjoy family activities and refreshments (while supplies last)
• Observe fly-in aircraft and mingle with pilots and enthusiasts
• Get involved with our WWII aircraft restoration programs
• Explore engines, planes, cockpits and more!
• Licensed pilots will receive 50% OFF admission to our Flight Innovation Center (main building) 

General Admission Rates (applies to Flight Innovation Center only on Sunday, August 18th)
Veterans, Active Military, Police Officers and Firefighters always receive 50% off general admission at the Air Zoo!

SEPTEMBER - Fly-In-for the 40th!

Fly-In for the 40th:

Join the Air Zoo as we return to our roots and host an authentic fly-in weekend! Guests will meet pilots and experience an open house of flyable aircraft. The Air Zoo is recruiting both classic and modern aircraft to appeal to all enthusiasts including the Yankee Museum’s visiting B-25D Mitchell Bomber!  The event will span Saturday and Sunday, September 14th and 15th at the our iconic Flight Discovery Center. 

Anyone interested in flying in their aircraft for display can call 269-350-2812 for more information!


OCTOBER - SR-71 Spy-posium: Blackbird Revealed

As if having the world’s only Lockheed SR-71B wasn’t cool enough…. the Air Zoo is over-the-moon excited to announce an all-weekend event centered around this incredible machine, the “Blackbird.” Distinguished guests, including several of the men that flew this very aircraft to train pilots for strategic reconnaissance missions during the height of the Cold War, will be on-site to share stories, answer questions and… wait for it… tour the cockpit (YES, we really did just say, we get to open the SR-71's cockpit)! Event schedule and ticketing will be available soon. Interested persons should keep an eye on our calendar as well as social media platforms for more information on this event that celebrates the fastest aircraft ever flown!


OCTOBER - Ice Cream Challenge

Introducing a scientifc look into your favorite creamy cold delight - ice cream!!

If you’re a fan of frozen treats you won’t want to miss our ice cream challenge at the Air Zoo!  Join us and test original flavors developed by area businesses vying for your vote!  Through safe science practices, we freeze the ice cream onsite with liquid nitrogen, resulting in the creamiest frozen goodness you’ve ever tasted!  Unlimited tastes are included in the price of admission.  So, put October 26th on your calendar now and get your spoons ready!

NOVEMBER - Big Birthday Bash!

Air Zoo's Big Birthday Bash:

Talk about a lengthy birthday celebration – As if all the exhibits and events thus far weren’t enough, the Air Zoo is pumped to offer the community a fun-filled birthday weekend from Friday, November 15th through Monday, November 18th as they celebrate 40 years of open hangar doors in southwest Michigan!  Ace party planners are hard at work on all the details to feature activities special to both interactive flight center facilities, including (but definitely not limited to) a Saturday night party including music, dancing, desserts and cash bar; a members-only Rise-N-Shine Breakfast event; and an interactive Cake Chat consisting of a panel of past and present Air Zoo “historians.”  Save the date (all four of them) and keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and airzoo.org for more information!


DECEMBER - Winter Break Family Fun Days

Come imagine, explore and discover with us, and bring your entire family with you for this awesome Air Zoo experience!  We offer fun, hands-on activities the entire family will enjoy during our Winter Break Family Fun Days.  These family days are very popular and the activities are always entertaining and educational so keep an eye on our calendar for December's dates and info!

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