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 to its final resting place on February 18, 1944, when it, and pilot Lt. J. G. Lendo, crashed into Lake Michigan during a training exercise while stationed at the Carrier Qualification Training Unit, due to carburetor icing. Lendo, thankfully, was not injured in the crash. Rescued from its watery grave on June 19, 2009 by A and T Recovery, and brought to the Air Zoo to undergo years of painstaking restoration and care in July of 2016, the aircraft is now ready to head back to its permanent home in Honolulu, Hawaii.  
The Air Zoo’s restoration team has invested more than 40,000 volunteer hours restoring 2173 to pristine museum quality condition and for one weekend only, this National Treasure will be fully assembled for community viewing before disassembly starts on Monday, October 18th. 2173 is destined to travel to its new home at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum in Honolulu for dedication during the 80th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremonies in early December.

The Air Zoo will be hosting a free Open House at the Flight Discovery Center, located at 3101 Milham Rd., on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 15-17th.  All are invited to come and congratulate the team and bid the beautiful aircraft Aloha.  Representatives from the Lendo family, who have been avid Air Zoo supporters and donors to this project, will be onsite Friday as they celebrate and take part in the finishing touches.  

Those wishing to celebrate further can join the team and community members Saturday evening for a ticketed event.  Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance.  
Aloha 2173 Event

Reserve your tickets for an exciting and heartwarming send-off event as the community celebrates the hard-working volunteers and staff that got the SBD-2P 2173 ready to go back to Honolulu, Hawaii, just in time for the 80th Anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor commemoration ceremonies.  There will be local food trucks and a cash-bar for guests to purchase dinner, snacks and refreshments as well as music merriment and a brief presentation at 6:30pm. The event is open-house-style and Hawaiian attire is encouraged.  

About the Air Zoo 

Located at 6151 Portage Rd., Portage, MI 49002, the Air Zoo is a Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace & science experience with over 100 rare air & space craft, inspiring interactive exhibits, indoor amusement park rides, full-motion flight simulators, hands-on science-based education programs, and more.  The Air Zoo is a not-for-profit organization and is open 360+ days per year.  

For hours, tickets, safety policies and procedures as well as temporarily altered experiences due to COVID-19, visit airzoo.org/plan-your-visit.  


Posted by Nikki Statler at 8:00 AM
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