Air Zoo Features Century of Flight
Michigan Travel News ( Press Release )
New Aviation and Aeronautics Museum Prepares for Takeoff
Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA: January 30, 2004: The Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan, will
pay tribute to the history of flight with the opening of an interactive aviation
museum this May. The new Air Zoo will feature more than 80 vintage aircraft,
character actors in the roles of famous aviators, amusement rides, Smithsonian
exhibitions and 4-D theaters, which combine 3-D filmmaking with other special
The new 120,000-square-foot facility, which nearly doubles the space of the
current campus, will allow the Air Zoo to educate visitors about aviation through
hands-on, multi-sensory experiences.
"The new Air Zoo doesn't just teach people about history, it surrounds them
with it," says Bob Ellis, executive director of the Air Zoo. "For example,
through interactive storytelling, historical re-enactors will share the adventures
of the inspiring heroes of aviation history."
The new Air Zoo will feature the largest known indoor mural. Equivalent to
three football fields in length, "Century of Flight" is the creation of renowned
aviation artist Rick Herter. The 25,000-square-foot, hand-painted mural depicts
major moments in aviation history from the first hot air balloon ride to journeys
Another highlight is the Air Zoo's 4-D theater presentation, "Missions, Salute
to Heroes," which tells the compelling story of young airmen flying deep
into the heart of World War II Germany in 1943. Visitors will experience
startling in-theater effects such as shaking seats and simulated anti-aircraft fire.
The Air Zoo also features a collection of thousands of artifacts and more than 80
vintage aircraft, including a rare SR-71B Blackbird spy plane, which holds the
record for speed and altitude.
"There will always be something new to see," Ellis says. "Because of our
partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, the Air Zoo has access to over 142
million artifacts and an endless source of world-famous traveling exhibitions."
The first exhibition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution is "Hubble Space
Telescope: New Views of the Universe."The exhibition allows visitors to learn
about the telescope's history, design and purpose, as well as gain a greater
understanding of planets, stars, galaxies and intergalactic space.
"We're excited to see the folks at the Air Zoo turn their dream into a reality,"
says Aaron Glavas, affiliations coordinator for the Smithsonian Institution.
"The new Air Zoo will give people a dramatic, first-hand look at the fascinating
world of aviation and aeronautics."
The opening of the new Air Zoo is likely to make Kalamazoo, and the state of
Michigan, a destination spot for thousands of tourists. The Air Zoo predicts the
museum will draw 300,000 visitors annually.
"The Air Zoo is going to have an immediate impact on the local economy
through jobs, visitor spending and admission," predicts George Erickcek, senior
regional analyst, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. "If the Air
Zoo draws 300,000 visitors annually to the area, we estimate that wages and
salaries in Kalamazoo County will increase by $9.9 million, and the facility will
generate 360 jobs, including the Air Zoo's current staff of 50."
Times and Prices
The Air Zoo is a full-service attraction, offering a restaurant, gift shop and
banquet facilities. It will open daily at 10 a.m. General admission is $19.50 for
adults, $17.50 for seniors 60-plus and $15.50 for children, aged 6 to 12.
Children ages 5 and under enter free. Group rates are available for advanced
For more information, please call 1.866.5AIRZOO (866.524.7966) or
visit the website coming soon.