F117 Shaba

Get Shaba

Be part of something big & stealthy

Project: Get Shaba (817) Restored

In December 2020, the Air Zoo (Kalamazoo, Michigan) became one of the first non-military institutions – and the only museum in Michigan – to display a Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk! The plane represents the U.S. Air Force’s first active military stealth aircraft, and we could not be more excited to be chosen for this honor. 

The highly decorated Shaba  (tail number 817) was demilitarized in preparation for her journey to Kalamazoo, with her top-secret radar-absorbing black paint and leading edges removed. The challenge put forth to the Air Zoo’s renowned Restoration Center? Rebuild and restore her to her former glory. This is HUGE for the Air Zoo and our community, but we need your help! 

Amidst all of the challenges that 2020 has presented – and those we foresee in 2021 – we need help funding the partial restoration of this amazing modern marvel and invite you to join us as part of Shaba’s special restoration journey right here in Kalamazoo. 

Will you adopt  Shaba?  

Your tax-deductible donation will help the Air Zoo cover restore Shaba to pristine condition at our renowned Restoration Center.  Not only are  there some amazing perks to sponsoring or adopting Shaba (817), but As part of an extension to the federal CARES Act, your gift will be refunded to you dollar-for-dollar up to $300 per qualifying individual ($600 married filing jointly) when you file your 2021 taxes next year and take the standard deduction (there are other benefits if you itemize your deductions). Be sure to scout your tax professional for more information on this generous charitable program. I want to help now!!! 

About the F-117

In the early 1970s, the United States found itself vulnerable to new, advanced air-defense missile systems that integrated radar-guided surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and air-launched radar-guided missiles. To mitigate the threat, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a program to develop the technology and strategies necessary to reduce radar detectability in U.S. aircraft.

In 1975, DARPA held a “pole-off” competition between aircraft manufacturers, wherein the design produced by the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works demonstrated unmatched low observability and won the company the contract to produce Have Blue, the stealth demonstrator that would ultimately lead to the F-117. By December 1977, Have Blue took its first (and only) flight over Nevada.

Based on the results of the test flights, the Skunk Works was awarded the contract to produce the F-117 in November 1978. Just 31 months later, in June 1981, the first F-117 Nighthawk took flight. Produced in true Skunk Works fashion – that is to say, in the utmost secrecy – the Nighthawk went on to play an important role in six operational missions, including Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. Between 1989 and 2008, it flew an impressive 1,271 sorties with 80% mission success. Only one F-117 was ever lost in combat.

The secret to the Nighthawk’s success lies in its unique design. Unlike the sleek designs of many of the aircraft previously produced by Lockheed Martin, the design of the F-117 is full of strategically designed angular panels. The very specific combination of shaping and radar absorbent materials reduce radar cross section on the aircraft and make it nearly invisible to radar detection.

ADOPT SHABA - are you familiar with our Adopt-a-Plane program?



To learn more about how you can support this exciting project (as well as others), and make your gift online visit airzoo.org/support!

As always, we thank you for your support! 

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