Have you ever heard of an Air Zoo?
Well, living in our snowy state has a few benefits. Kalamazoo, Michigan is home to the world’s only Air Zoo.
Instead of the animals that you would expect from a typical zoo, this zoo features aircraft of many shapes and sizes.
The most dramatic, I think, was this SR-71 Blackbird.
According to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Aircraft File, the SR-71 “is the fastest aircraft propelled by air-breathing engines.” The Blackbird was named for the special black paint “formulated to absorb radar signals, to radiate some of the tremendous airframe heat generated by air friction, and to camouflage the aircraft against the dark sky at high altitudes.” In service from 1964-1990, the SR-71 “could operate safely at a maximum speed of Mach 3.3 at an altitude more than sixteen miles, or 25,908 m (85,000 ft), above the earth.” Wow. ITman took the above photograph from a balcony overlooking the main part of the Air Zoo. What a spectacular aircraft!
The F-14 Tomcat was Circuit’s favorite.
Button’s favorite aircraft on display was this Curtiss P-40N Warhawk which hung in the Air Zoo entrance. Could it be because of the color, you think?
The most-anticipated segment of our visit involved the jet-fighter simulators. ITman, Circuit, and Button all jumped at the chance. Joyful Mom was more than happy to be the designated photographer during these stunts:)
In this photograph you can see the simulator starting to pivot as one of my family members controls the craft. To the right of the simulator is a screen that displays what the people inside the simulator are experiencing. Notice the tilted view of earth!
This photograph is blurry because of the simulator’s speed, but you should be able to notice that it is UPSIDE DOWN!
When I first witnessed the simulator’s frantic revolutions, I worried that ITman was making the children sick with his maneuvering. Silly Mom. I later learned that MY CHILDREN were piloting in these instances! Utterly amazing that no one became ill!
Check out these grins as they exited the simulator:
These children even went back to the simulator for another turn without their Dad!
If you ever have the chance to visit the southern part of Michigan, we highly recommend the Air Zoo.