With one kid in L.A. and the other kid working on Sunday, it was up to my lovely wife Michelle to entertain me on Father's Day, so we went to the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo. Very cool place. And, even though I'm a big fan of all airplanes, this was the first time I'd been there. I must admit, the Air Zoo was much bigger than I'd thought it would be.

There are two separate buildings containing the Air Zoo airplanes. The main building and then the "East Campus" just a few hundred yards away used to house a few more airplanes, a lot of engines and ongoing restoration projects. One of the projects at the East Campus is the Gruman F-2 "Wildcat" fighter aircraft that crashed on takeoff and went into Lake Michigan, during a carrier qualification run, in 1944. (The pilot lived) In 2012, the plane was recovered from the lake bottom - 160 feet down. The project is now at the Air Zoo, in a bazillion pieces still, but it'll be fun to go back and watch it's progress.

Also on display, in the East Campus building, is the nacelle (the engine housing) from an engine that once powered an A-10 Warthog. This plane, flown by a pilot from the Michigan Air National Guard out of Battle Creek, took a direct hit from an Iraqi missile in 2003 - and kept on flying. The pilot was able to fly this thing 120 miles to the closest U.S. air base. It's a testament to how tough the A-10 is. Sadly, the U.S. government is trying to "retire" the A-10 and replace it with the newer (and very expensive) F-35. It's a dumb move, in my opinion, but what do I know - I'm just a taxpayer. In fact, the A-10 from Battle Creek that survived this missile strike is something that comes up to show how valuable these planes are.

And go visit the Air Zoo when you get a chance.


Banana Don and Stephanie McCoy amuse and thrill you every weekday morning from 5:30 –10AM on the radio at 100.7 WITL.

Banana Don can be reached via email at don.jefferson@townsquaremedia.com and on Twitter at @WITLBananaDon and @WITLFM. Also, Facebook friend Banana Don and Stephanie at Facebook.com/BananaStephanie and Facebook.com/WITLFM.


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