Air Zoo’s Name Has Nothing To Do with Kalamazoo
Since I've moved to Kalamazoo, and known about the Air Zoo, I always assumed that its name was derived from the city, despite ACTUALLY being in Portage. But it turns out... no.
The Air Zoo has been a staple in the community for more than 40 years, and it turns out, Kalamazoo wasn't even considered when naming the museum.
Museum founders Suzanne and Pete Parish began curating the founding collection of the Air Zoo well before it would open. Sue served with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), and after her service, met Pete, who was a former WWII Marine Air Corps Aviator.
In 1959, Pete began their collection of planes, that would eventually include a 35C Bonanza, a Stearman Biplane, an AT-6, and a Grumman Wildcat. They then also found a P-40 "WASP" in Texas that she had always dreamed of flying following her service in the military.
Then, she was hooked, and purchased her trademark plane, a pink Flying Tiger, which now hangs in the museum to this day.
If you're noticing a trend in the plane names, then you've likely put the pieces together already. What eventually became the "Air Zoo," had more to do with the names of the planes, than it did with Kalamazoo.
With the addition of Grumman Bearcat, the couple decided to open the museum know as the "Air Zoo" because of all of the animal names for planes - Wildcat, Hellcat, Bearcat, Flying Tiger, and WASP.
I always kind of saw the museum as a "zoo for airplanes," but didn't take into account the actual names of the planes, which makes SO much more sense now. AND, the museum has grown exponentially since opening in 1979.
The collection now includes most of the original planes, and a strong history of the WWII planes and their history. But also branched out into space travel, the Jet Age, and even has on display, an SR-71B Blackbird, which is very rare.
And with it getting to be colder outside, you'll need more indoor activities. The Air Zoo is a perfect activity for you and the family.
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