I was absolutely blown away by this place. I've been to the Air Force Museum at Wright Pat and the Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola NAS. This is far-and-away MUCH better than the P'cola museum and, in terms of sheer number of displays, a very very VERY close second to the AF museum.
When we paid the paltry $10 entry fee, I wasn't expecting much at all. Seriously - only $10? I figured we'd see the obligatory P-51, maybe a couple of modern jets, and the rebuild of the plane that was at the bottom of Lake Michigan for several decades...
When we walked through the exquisitely done entry (you're "walking through the clouds") into the vast indoor display space, I was literally moved to tears. I was stunned at the quality (and quantity!) of the aircraft, as well as the artistry of the murals that wrap the interior.
Expecting to spend "about an hour" at the museum, we soon found ourselves realizing we'd been there two hours and still hadn't had a chance to see/do everything! Yes, there are kiddie rides and some of the simulators might be a bit "juvenile" for some (not for ME!!!!), but OH-MY-GOSH! We are already planning a trip back there next year, where we will spend the entire DAY and take that biplane ride for only $70/person! We will take the time to *study* the exhibits. We will happily eat lunch at the Kitty Hawk Cafe again - the food was excellent and priced reasonably (lunch for two - about $20 including drinks).
Souvenirs at the Fly Buy Store are also amazingly inexpensive compared to your typical gift shop (t-shirts for $10-$16, for example).
The staff are exceedingly friendly and helpful, and we were greeted by every.single.person we encountered!
It's a treat to find little "extra" displays, including an MG T-series car, a couple of motorcycles, a hot-air balloon basket, etc.
And the WASP display? Be still, my heart - an entire room dedicated to these amazing women!
I told the sweet lady at the front desk they should "up" their entry fee to at least $20, just to indicate to the public the quality of what they're about to see. I'd have happily paid $30 to experience what we saw, so we dropped some serious $$$ into the "donation box" just inside the front door.
I wish they'd upgrade their website to make it reflect the level of sophistication of the place. Yes, kids will love it, but it's so much more than a kids' place. We are planning to take my dad with us next year - he will be using a wheelchair to tour it, and it's 100% accessible too!
Just go - if you're within even 100 miles of Kalamazoo, GO! If you love planes, space, rockets, WWII, weaponry, flight... Just. Wow.
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