PORTAGE, MICH. - At the Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Center, just outside of Kalamazoo, you can soar through clouds into an experience on par with some of the best air and space museums in the country.
"We've got some incredible artifacts, some airplanes that are the only one of their kind in the world like the SR 71 Blackbird. So many historic aircraft and spacecraft," said Troy Thrash, the President and CEO of the Air Zoo. "We're also all about STEAM, science, technology, engineering, art and math. We want to bring the science and technology of this spacecraft to life for kids."
And there's no shortage of fun, the Air Zoo has incredible rides include 3D flight simulators that kids of all ages have the opportunity to take advantage of. Thrash says that every single square-inch of the Air Zoo is not only fun, but educational too.
"We have a space area that traces human space flight, primarily in the United States, but also around the world," Thrash explained. "Just the idea that in 50 years we went from finally sending some satellites into orbit to landing on the moon and returning."
This summer the Air Zoo has an exciting exhibit called Aliens and Androids. The exhibit focuses on how we have "robotically explored our solar system," as well as thinking about the planets that we discover and what those alien worlds might really be like.
"It's done in a really cool pop culture kind of way," Thrash said. "So, you can visit C3PO and R2D2." The Aliens and Androids exhibit will run until September 10.
The Air Zoo also has a restoration area -- currently two World War II air crafts that were on the bottom of Lake Michigan are being restored, and you can help. The Air Zoo allows visitors to help with sanding or turning rivets so that you're able to say you worked on an airplane from the 1940s.
If you want to take flight yourself, the Wanda Wright team offers rides in their bi-plane for an additional cost. The experience comes complete with the suggested attire: an old fashioned flying helmet and goggles.
It's safe to say the Air Zoo surpasses expectations.
"I think this place is fabulous," said Art Hennessey. "I'm surprised more people do not know about all of these. It's educational, its awesome. They've got the rides for the kids and I just learned of this today and I'm going to put this all over social media.
"The Star Wars, the androids, the planes, the baskets for the balloons and I'm not even halfway through it yet. This is incredible."
To celebrate the Aliens and Androids exhibit, the Air Zoo is hosting an Intergalactic Prom on Sept. 9. For more information about that, as well as the Air Zoo's hours and ticket information, click here.
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