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Air Zoo Blog

Category: restoration

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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Discovering Shaba with Captain Thad Darger

The Air Zoo is excited to welcome a very special guest for a Discovery Series event this Saturday evening. Former F-117 Nighthawk pilot,  Captain Thad Darger,  will be reunited with the recently completed F-117 Nighthawk (tail number 817), Shaba , and will share his exciting journey with the 8th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Wing, of Holloman Air Force Base. Captain Darger was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while flying in the stealth aircraft displayed at the... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Wednesday, Jul 27, 2022
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New partnership between the National Naval Aviation Museum, National Medal of Honor Museum and the Air Zoo brings historic aircraft to life for new museum

A special project that began 10 years ago, when an FM-2 Wildcat fighter plane was recovered from its 68-year slumber on the bottom of Lake Michigan, has recently taken an exciting turn as the Air Zoo Restoration Team pushes ahead for a spring 2024 completion. Conversations that began in late 2021 have led three organizations to a completion plan that is a victory for all.      Through the efforts of the National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM) in Pensacola, Florida, and the... Read More
at Monday, Jul 11, 2022
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A Long Farewell to the SBD-2P

A few weekends ago we completed the 5+-year restoration of the world’s only SBD-2p Douglas Dauntless Dive Bomber on Friday, hosted a wonderful and emotional Aloha party to say goodbye to the aircraft on Saturday, and began taking it apart for transport on Monday.  Bittersweet to say the least, as we are preparing to send the SBD back home to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum (PHAM) in Honolulu, HI after our team spent over 40,000 hours restoring her to her former glory.  With a... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Monday, Nov 1, 2021
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WWII pilot’s family reunited with restored plane at Air Zoo - Featured on WMUK

After more than five years of meticulous restoration at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, a restored World War Two dive bomber that crashed into Lake Michigan during World War Two is heading to a new home. The Douglas S-B-D “Dauntless” will be on display at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum in Hawaii. Earlier this month, it was celebrated at a family reunion. Enjoy the article & Interview now! By Leona Larson, WMUK Reporter  Read More
at Friday, Oct 29, 2021
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Celebrating the end of an exciting chapter at the Air Zoo’s Restoration Center

The time has come to celebrate the hard work and dedication the volunteers and staff at the Air Zoo have put into the restoration of the Douglas Dauntless SBD-2P Dive Bomber, a historic WWII Navy aircraft once thought lost forever in Lake Michigan.   The SBD-2P (Bureau Number 2173) currently housed at the Air Zoo’s Flight Discovery Center is the last of its kind. It was thought to have sunk... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021
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C-47 that led the main D-Day airborne invasion of Normandy visits the Air Zoo – tours and rides available

The Air Zoo is honored to welcome the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Central Texas Wing and their historic C-47, “That’s All, Brother,” to Kalamazoo.  The crew will land at the Air Zoo’s Flight Discovery Center on Sunday, August 1st at approximately 11am.  “That’s All, Brother” will be available for tours and rides Monday, August 2 nd through Thursday August 5 th .  They will then head to Evansville, IN, the last stop on their 2021 Tour.... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Friday, Jul 30, 2021
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The Air Zoo's Fund Your Favorite restoration campaign soars toward the finish line with announcement of two major gifts

In April, the Air Zoo announced a massive fundraising competition to complete the restoration of the Douglas SBD-2P Dauntless (Bu. No. 2173) and the F-117 Nighthawk Shaba (tail number 817) in 2021. In just two short months, the museum’s donors stepped up to the challenge and raised nearly $10,000 towards the completion of the restoration of these historic aircraft.   Fueled by the energy in the community, the Tyler Little Family Foundation joined in the cause and pledged an... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Thursday, Jun 10, 2021
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The Air Zoo launches competition, nationally, to raise $100,000 for completion of the SBD-2P & F-117 Nighthawk restorations in 2021

April 21, 2021 Portage, MI – Excitement is building at the Air Zoo as they announce a competition of mass proportions to complete the restoration of the Douglas SBD-2P Dauntless (Bu. No. 2173) and the F-117 Nighthawk Shaba (tail number 817) in 2021. Anyone who has visited the Air Zoo, or follows them on social media, knows that one of their most inspiring experiences is housed in the Air Zoo’s Flight Discovery Center. Since 2013, the Air Zoo has proudly boasted one of the... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Wednesday, Apr 21, 2021
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Meet Shaba

In 2019, the Air Zoo was notified that it will be the proud recipient of one of the first F- 117 Nighthawks released for public display at a non- government institution. The highly decorated Shaba (817) is one of 15 Nighthawks with over 5,000 flight hours. This incredible aircraft is one of 10 Nighthawks to fly at least 50 combat sorties; one of 7 that flew in at least three of the four significant campaigns in which Nighthawks were used; and one of only 5 that fit all three categories. ... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Tuesday, Mar 2, 2021
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SBD-2P Recovery and Restoration

Taken from original 2016 Press Release: The Douglas Dauntless Dive-Bomber Bureau Number SBD-2P 2173, an historic World War II Navy aircraft built by Douglas Aircraft Company 1 and once thought lost forever in Lake Michigan, will soon begin a very important phase of her long history. This aircraft will soon be transferred to the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum 2 to undergo a full expert restoration over the next several years. This rescue effort that was begun by Mr. Fred Turner 3 ,... Read More
Posted by Nikki Statler at Monday, Mar 1, 2021
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The Story of our FM-2 Wildcat

IT WAS A COLD DAY OVER LAKE MICHIGAN On December 28, 1944, it was just 15 degrees in Michigan when the FM-2 Wildcat fighter plane that currently calls the Air Zoo’s East Campus Restoration Center home crashed into the icy waters of Lake Michigan. One of the US Navy’s most successful fighters in early WWII, this particular Wildcat was being used to train pilots for aircraft carrier landing and takeoff over Lake Michigan. After completing two take offs and landings that fateful day,... Read More
Posted by Abby Sample at Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019
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