Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Air Zoo

Our small literature co-op read the book Born to Fly this month and took a field trip to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. One of the moms had discovered that the Air Zoo was offering free admission until the end of the year and we wanted to take advantage of that.

They have two campuses and one of the moms got docents scheduled to guide us through each campus. They both did such a great job! I figure if they can make it interesting and enjoyable to someone like me, who has no knowledge and very little interest in airplanes, they must be very good at what they do.

We got to climb inside this plane, which was a WWII era plane for hauling paratroopers. (Don't ask me what kind of plane it was-I have no recollection whatsoever.) The kids are huddled in the front looking at the shower stall they found there. One of the moms asked about it and the docent told us he thought the "shower head" was a microphone so someone could talk to the troops over the PA system. We giggled a good bit about Julianne's guess that it was a shower but she insists that it even looked like there was a spot for soap.

One interesting thing I learned was that during WWII, the military trained pilots to take off and land on aircraft carriers on Lake Michigan. I don't remember ever hearing about that before. They couldn't get actual aircraft carriers into the Great Lakes, of course, so they improvised by adding decking to a couple boats, creating the runways they needed for training.

As you'd expect, some planes were lost in these practice sessions. The Air Zoo, with help from others, pulled one fairly intact plane out of Lake Michigan a few years ago and worked to restore it. The above picture of the info board shows how it looked before restoration started. (You can click to enlarge it.)

Here it is today. I was amazed, as I always am when something so far gone is restored so beautifully.

These pictures are from the East Campus. I'll try to share a few pics from the Main Campus in the next few days.
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  1. We went to the air zoo with Eddie a few years ago. He and Earl got in the flight simulators and Eddie came out the most spectacular shade of green, lol. I found it rather, (dare I say it?) boring but I am just not into planes.

  2. I get ya, Kathy. That's how I know we had good docents-it wasn't boring and I fully expected to not be very interested.

  3. Oh, I love these kinds of field trips! Sounds like a fun day!

  4. This museum reminds me of the Air Museum in Virginia that we like to go to.

    Both of my Maternal Grandparents died at the Kalamazoo Medical Center. I was there each time.
    Unfortunately we were so taken with our own personal tragedy we didn't do any sightseeing.

    Becky K.


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