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What's Up at the Air Zoo?

(besides aircraft and space artifacts)

We always have fun and exciting things to share with you.  Please check back often for exhibit information and openings, event details, special Air Zoo visitors, educationand  program announcements and soooo much more!

Media contact:
Nikki Statler, Director of Marketing  |  269.350.2811

Building a Model

As many prepare for the winter weather and the holidays, your Air Zoo Exhibits and Collections departments are also busy working on exhibits for 2021. One of those new exhibits will explore the history of and give guests a look into a model aircraft and spacecraft building. America’s fascination with aviation rose right along with Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first aircraft. When Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in 1927, businesses including the Cleveland Model & Supply Company and Ideal Aeroplane & Supply Company jumped to capitalize on the nation’s flying fancy and produced some of the first model airplane kits. Balsa wood and mini gas engine development further advanced model aviation in the 1930s and early ‘40s. 

Not unlike so many other aspects of American life, model aviation experienced a lull during World War II as modelers (and the materials needed for building models!) went to war. Eyebrows raised and modelers feared the demise of the craft when manufacturers like Revell and Airfix introduced plastic scale model kits employing injection molding systems. By the 1950s, model builders also created missiles and rockets and by the 1960s, NASA’s Space Program influenced a new generation of model builders to create great reproductions of spacecraft.

Model building continues to inspire today and while new technologies may make some of the first kits appear a bit crude, what remains the same is the excitement, challenge, and fulfillment shared by aeromodelers. Some modelers go on to STEM-based careers in aerospace. They take their love of working on scale air and space craft to working on the real thing, just like members of the Air Zoo’s outstanding crew who apply their skills to our restoration projects.

In our 2021 model exhibition, we’ll honor those model builders with a history of model building presented through a nostalgic peek into the recreated workspace of a young builder paired with an interactive model maker’s space. Look for this exclusive exhibit, handcrafted by the Air Zoo, to debut in the Flight Discovery Center next year! 

-Submitted by - April Bryan, Air Zoo Exhibits and Interpretations Manager

Posted by Nikki Statler at 8:00 AM
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