Just south of the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, you’ll spy the excellent Air Zoo (6151 Portage Rd., 269/382-6555, www.airzoo.org, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun., $19.50 adults, $17.50 seniors 60 and over, $15.50 children 5–15).
Considered the nation’s premier museum of military aircraft, the three-campus Air Zoo stands out because of its emphasis on education. Not only can visitors examine vintage planes, like the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk or Grumman F-14A Tomcat, they can also sit at the controls of state-of-the-art flight simulators and get a small taste of what fighter pilots experience.
This enormous museum also features educational flight-related displays, such as a 2,000-square-foot exhibit chronicling the history of aircraft carriers (complete with over 400 archival photographs and three large models). In addition, the Air Zoo’s original facility (now its East Campus) houses the Michigan Space Science Center, a 17,000-square-foot repository of space artifacts, from a Gemini crew-training simulator to a full-size replica of a Mercury space capsule.
This impressive facility, much of which was once located near Jackson, offers an interactive exhibit as well. The International Space Station Exhibit uses hands-on demonstrations, simulations, models, theaters, and other experiences to illustrate the history and everyday operations of the largest international peacetime project in the world.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel