August 25, 2016
Today we ventured south of Kalamazoo to visit the Air Zoo in Portage, MI. This is a museum that looks like it was set up to inspire younger people to go into the aviation related disciplines. This museum included a guided tour from volunteers who have either worked on or flown some of the aircraft in the building. Another exhibit included a flight simulator, which participants can turn all the way upside down or steeply bank in the curves as you try to shoot down WWII enemy planes. They respectfully paid tribute to the military pilots through a 4D movie presentation and an exhibit on the details of the Guadalcanal Airstrip battles on the Pacific front during WWII. Other highlights included hands-on exhibits on virtual reality, robotics, space station, and influential technologies. They also had a temporary exhibit called POPnology. This highlighted 1980’s era video games and movies. In a second building, we saw more planes as well as viewed their restoration area.
A couple things I learned:
The German Nazi swastika originally was a native american symbol for good luck. This symbol was on WWI aircraft as part of a picture of a native’s headdress. Hitler adopted that symbol for the Nazi party.
The aeronautical industry was booming so fast, the first aircraft carriers were actually modified paddleboats, showing how far behind nautical field was in comparison.
The way the modern airplanes are detected is through weather radar, as they would not be detected otherwise.
The Blackbird Jet shows up as a little plane that is flying over 70,000 feet high. Even though this plane has been retired, the government still has not come out with the exact speed it is capable of flying. They’ll only say it is over Mock 3.
All the guys in the family wanted to be my partner in the simulator in hopes they would be able to control the machine the entire time, ha ha!
Here’s what my youngest had to say:
“Today we went to Air Zoo. The most fun I had there was on some simulators and playing old fashioned games. The fighters were very cool. It is very amazing on how many planes crashed practicing flying [over Lake Michigan].”
Until we meet again,