Air Zoo has something for all ages

Looking for an interesting educational experience appropriate for all ages? Just a few miles up Portage Road, the Air Zoo awaits, with its collection and display of aircraft, artifacts and exhibits.

Over its 40-plus-year history, the Air Zoo has grown from a nine-plane hangar display to a Smithsonian-affiliated, world-class aerospace and science education center. The Air Zoo offers 100 rare and unique aircraft and spacecraft, interactive exhibits, education programs for learners of all ages and a world-renowned restoration center.

The Air Zoo is well known for its outstanding collection and displays. The world’s only remaining Lockheed SR-71B Blackbird and Curtiss XP-55 Ascender as well as the recognizable pink P-40 Warhawk, once flown in air shows all over the country by Air Zoo co-founder Sue Parish, welcome all who visit.

Education and preservation are the foundation of the Air Zoo’s mission. The facility offers exhibitions of people, aerospace artifacts and engineering marvels to hands-on science stations, flight-based amusement park-style rides and simulators to educational camps, classes, lectures, field trips, outreaches, events and tours. Visitors are encouraged to visit the restoration bays located in the Flight Discovery Center (FDC), where more than 30 dedicated volunteers are meticulously restoring two WWII aircraft rescued from the bottom of Lake Michigan. Guests of the FDC are invited to climb into training cockpits and explore aircraft dating to the Vietnam War era. Families can see the newest aircraft on display – the first non-government released Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, which is in the final stages of restoration.

A main floor gift shop stocks educational toys, dozens of books, games, models, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) experiments and souvenirs. All proceeds go to the Air Zoo. Online shopping is available at Online visitors at can take advantage of hundreds of free educational tools, from aircraft and exhibit information to educational activities, in home science experiments and Launchpad to Learning videos.

Exhibits and Collections Departments are committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. The goal is to have their multigenerational audiences see themselves reflected in the center’s permanent and travelling exhibits, in the artifacts and archives they collect and display, and in the print and digital content they create. Many of these new multi-media exhibits celebrate the accomplishments made by women and people of color in aerospace history.

The Air Zoo team has worked closely with KultureCity to receive a Sensory Inclusive Certification to better accommodate guests with sensory needs. Other ADA-based facility updates and changes are planned for 2022 to ensure that all visitors feel welcome and can take full advantage of the experience during their visit.

Many events and programs are planned for spring and summer, including the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame induction, STEAM awards for educators and students on April 16, and an adult learning program called the Discovery Series on May 12.

Families looking for some hands-on science fun can join the Air Zoo’s spring break activities or enjoy exploring the science of sound in a new collaboration between the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and the Air Zoo on April 21st. Looking for something a bit more hands-on for the youngsters? The annual Corporate Engineering Challenge, sponsored by the Society of Women Engineers, will be held Saturday, May 14th, and planning is underway for the Air Zoo’s Summer STEAM Day Programs, and summer day camps. The team is also working on solidifying dates for historic aircraft fly-ins this summer with partners for Yankee Air Museum and the Commemorative Air Force.

The Air Zoo is also a popular destination for hosting events and meetings. From corporate meetings to group overnights, scouting days, ceremonies, weddings and proms, the Group and Events staff is ready to assist in the planning.

For information about hours and admission and membership fees, visit

Leave a Reply