Picture of Aircraft at the Air Zoo in Michigan

Air Zoo Blog

(Almost) the First Black Astronaut

In 1958, the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) chose the first astronaut recruits from among U.S. military test pilots. President John F. Kennedy wanted one of those recruits to be a black male pilot. Enter test pilot Edward “Ed” J. Dwight Jr., who became the first black candidate to compete for the astronaut corps in 1962. The U.S. Air Force captain arrived with two-thousand logged miles and impressive credentials. Many supported Ed, including the... Read More
at Thursday, Jan 26, 2023
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New Interactive Touchscreen Brings Space Imagery into Focus

            The team at the Air Zoo is constantly looking for ways to provide our guests with new, original exhibit content. Some of the newest content brings our stunning images from Earth to Deep Field into focus! Our Picturing the Observable Universe digital kiosk welcomes you to enjoy an interpretive touchscreen experience as you discover more about each of these massive and vivid images and learn how we take pictures of... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Wednesday, Dec 28, 2022
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Childhood visits lay groundwork for lifelong appreciation - Donor Spotlight

Having grown up in Three Rivers, Michigan it was around 30 years ago when Heather Oestrike-Schripsema discovered the Air Zoo. Her many visits as a child and young adult had a profound impact on Heather, sparking her interest in aviation and giving her a different trajectory in life than anyone anticipated. Her interest and determination led to a nomination to the United States Air Force Academy in her senior year of high school.  At age 15, Heather couldn’t wait to get in the... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Friday, Dec 16, 2022
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Meet the Fokker

Not all the Air Zoo’s cool planes can be found on the ground. Look up and you’ll find some super suspended aircraft, such as our Fokker Dr. 1. Our 3/4 scale reproduction represents World War I aerial combat history and early twentieth century aircraft design. Inspired by the sight of the Sopwith Triplane, Fokker-Flugzeugwerke built the Dr.1 as a WWI fighter. The Dr stands for Dreidecker—German for triplane. Pilots flew this single seat fighter mostly during the spring of... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022
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Flight is in the Family - Donor Spotlight

As a parent, Autumn Zank found her son, Tyler, was far more engaged with his schoolwork when it was centered around something he was passionate about.  When he discovered his interest in aviation, Tyler translated that into a career in aircraft mechanics.  The Air Zoo’s STEAM education programs offer students the chance to discover and engage interests in aviation and other STEAM studies.  Autumn’s niece, Gabby, joined the Air Zoo’s High School Aviation... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Wednesday, Nov 16, 2022
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New Label Series Will Interpret Outdoor Aircraft

As the chilly November breeze drops colorful leaves from the trees, your Air Zoo Exhibits department actively researches and writes stories about some cool planes! We’re interpreting aircraft including a French flying machine, a Fortune magazine favorite, and the U.S. Air Force’s first operational jet! The Broussard, Learjet 23, and P-80 Shooting Star, respectively, comprise just three of the 10 historic airplanes exhibited on the Air Zoo grounds. We’re excited to create a... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Tuesday, Nov 1, 2022
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SBD-1 Restoration Receives Funding

The Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, doing business as the Air Zoo, is pleased to announce publicly that we have secured a significant funding promise from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (hereinafter referred to as the IMLS), in the amount of $439,180.00. These funds, awarded as part of the IMLS’s 2021 Save America’s Treasures grant portfolio, will be utilized in the restoration of the last known SBD-1 Dauntless dive bomber, by our dedicated restoration staff... Read More
at Monday, Oct 10, 2022
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Six West Michigan Attractions Offer FREE Admission in October to Members

The Southwest Michigan Cultural Membership Exchange returns this fall. The exchange offers free, reciprocal admission to members of six cultural attractions during the month of October. Current members of The Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Center, Binder Park Zoo, Gilmore Car Museum, Kalamazoo Nature Center, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) Bird Sanctuary and W.K. Kellogg Manor House can visit each destination free of admission charge when they present... Read More
at Friday, Sep 30, 2022
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Local Middle School Students Provide Views to the Night Sky in Windows to the Universe Art + Science Exhibit

A teacher’s promise to his middle school students bloomed into an art-meets-science installation at the Air Zoo!  During the 2019-2020 school year, Portage Central Middle School teacher Doug Wilson made a pledge to his students. He told them that if their southern and northern hemispheres project turned out well, that he would find a place where their canvases could be viewed and enjoyed. We consider it a privilege that Doug allowed the Air Zoo to become the public venue for the... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Thursday, Sep 29, 2022
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New Air Zoo Exhibit: "Daughters of the Sky: The Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII”.

The Air Zoo is proud to launch a new and exclusive exhibit, “ Daughters of the Sky: The Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII ”.  The exhibit tells the stories of the bravery, triumphs, and challenges of women pilots committed to serving their country. Situated in the Air Zoo’s East Wing, the exhibit combines artifacts, images, video, and interactives to tell stories of the WASP. Guests can find the exhibit by following the new Fifinella (the WASP mascot),... Read More
at Wednesday, Sep 7, 2022
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Exclusive Exhibit Daughters of the Sky Comes in for a Landing in our East Wing

It is with great pride that we officially announce the opening of a wonderful new and exclusive exhibit meant to honor and raise awareness of the Women Airforce Service Pilots—the WASP. Opening the first week of September 2022, Daughters of the Sky: The Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII tells the stories of the daring and determined women who answered the call when asked to fill the training, towing, and ferrying roles that would release male pilots to train for combat. Another... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Friday, Aug 26, 2022
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Mission Complete: The SR-71 Spy-posium returns

Twenty SR-71 Blackbird crew members and thousands of guests joined the Air Zoo for another unforgettable SR-71 Spy-posium. Crew were on site to recount sorties and give tours of the Blackbird. There was also multiple panel discussions, new Blackbird and Spy-posium souvenirs in the Fly Buy Gift Shop and the Blackbird Affair , a ticketed fundraising event which gave lucky guests the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of the mighty Blackbird. The 2022 SR-71 Spy-posium was generously... Read More
at Friday, Aug 19, 2022
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