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Time flies at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo!

Posted on September 5th, 2012
Discover Kalamazoo Miles Baxter

By: Miles Baxter
Marketing and communications intern at Discover Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo, Mich. — A huge pink plane with teeth staring down at me.

That’s the first thing I saw when walking into the Air Zoo.

I looked up to see this beautiful plane with a ferocious, hand-painted face hanging above me.

Air Zoo Kalamazoo Planes

This plane hangs above patrons at the entrance of the Air Zoo.

That’s when I knew: I had a great day in store for me.

I met up with the Air Zoo’s customer service manager Michael Miller, who gave me a special tour of the aviation history museum.

I soared through the “cloud hallway” — which was like walking through a curvy tunnel of clouds — to get to the main room.

And then I saw it: The main room. The heart of the Air Zoo. And the most impressive thing I’ve seen in quite some time.

The lights were dim over the dozens of airplanes, with spotlights shining down on the models. The room was back-dropped by a fantastically-painted mural with beautiful cloud scenes and aircraft  — even more impressive, this is one of the largest hand-painted murals in the world. 

But the mural only set the stage for the real attractions.

I walked around the huge main room and marveled at the sheer size of the planes. The massive pieces of machinery were overwhelming.

And, oh yes. In the main room there are rides. Needless to say, I eagerly waited in line. The Montgolfier balloon ride took me up in the air and spun me around, and aside from being a complete blast, it gave me a great view of the whole main room (provided you could see straight).

Air Zoo Balloon Ride Mural

The main room of the Air Zoo boasts one of the largest hand-painted murals in the world. You’ll also find amusement-park-style rides and lots of planes!

Nearby I spotted a 4D theater! I went inside and after taking my 3D glasses, I was treated to awesome 3D effects on screen. Suddenly, my seat shot back (much to my surprise), simulating the voyage I was taking on screen. The tilting seats and the 3D effects put me right into the adventure.

Air Zoo Kalamazoo Michigan

Two people await their ride in the full-motion flight simulator at the Air Zoo. This is Miles Baxter’s favorite ride at the Air Zoo.

But perhaps my favorite ride was the Full-Motion Flight Simulator. After getting in and closing the hatch, immediately I was under attack by enemy planes. I grabbed the control sticks and tried hard to steer, pulling up from the water and firing guns at the enemy planes. One shot through line of site and I turned to follow him.

Or at least, I tried.

My plane barreled to the left before flipping me entirely upside down. Seconds later my plane shot down into the water. I see now why they leave this to the professionals.

As we headed into the space section, I looked up to see the night sky.

Air Zoo Kalamazoo Michigan Plane

A woman looks at a plane at the Air Zoo. The Air Zoo was voted the “Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners” and “Best Place to Spend a Day with Your Family” three years in a row.

Just kidding! The space section features a simulated night sky that allows people to see what the stars would look like if there wasn’t any artificial light. I have to say, we’ve been missing out.

“Thanks a lot, Edison,” Michael joked about the man famous for inventing the light bulb, which often brightens much of the night sky and inherently hides the stars.

Then we made our way to the WWII exhibit.

The planes shown here were meant to deal some damage. It was a little intimidating seeing the size of the guns attached to the planes. The history and power of what I was face-to-face with was nothing short of amazing.

Kalamazoo Air Zoo planes

This WWII plane was used to train pilots to get used to the plane’s instruments. This is one of the many aircraft on display at the Air Zoo.

Sadly, time flew and my day at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo had come to end. But one thing is for certain: I’ll definitely be back.

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