Back in June, we reported that the Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum in Kalamazoo, Michigan was working hard to complete the static restoration of a unique Douglas SBD-2P Dauntless. They needed to have the aircraft ready for delivery to its intended new home at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii in time for a dedication event this December during the 80th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremonies commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor. Volunteers at the Air Zoo have put in roughly 40,000 hours of labor since the aircraft’s arrival five years ago and, with justification, they will be celebrating their efforts with the public at free Open House events starting this Friday, October 15th 2021 and lasting through the 17th. A special, tickets-only event will also occur on the evening of October 16th. This weekend will be the only time that the finished aircraft will be on view to the public in Michigan, as a team will begin disassembling the Dauntless on Monday, October 18th for its voyage to Hawaii. For the complete details, please read the museum’s press release below…
Portage MI, October 13, 2021 – The time has come to celebrate the hard work and dedication which the volunteers and staff at the Air Zoo have put into the restoration of the Douglas Dauntless SBD-2P Dive Bomber, a historic WWII Navy aircraft once thought lost forever in Lake Michigan.
The SBD-2P (BuNo.2173) currently housed at the Air Zoo’s Flight Discovery Center is the last of its kind. It was thought to have sunk to its final resting place on February 18, 1944, when it, and pilot Lt. J. G. Lendo, crashed into Lake Michigan due to carburetor icing during a training exercise while stationed at the Carrier Qualification Training Unit. Lendo, thankfully, was not injured in the crash. Rescued from its watery grave on June 19, 2009 by A&T Recovery, and brought to the Air Zoo to undergo years of painstaking restoration and care in July of 2016, the aircraft is now ready to head back to its permanent home in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Air Zoo’s restoration team has invested more than 40,000 volunteer hours restoring 2173 to pristine, museum-quality condition and for one weekend only, this National Treasure will be fully assembled for community viewing before disassembly starts on Monday, October 18th. 2173 is destined to travel to its new home at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum in Honolulu for dedication during the 80th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremonies in early December.
The Air Zoo will be hosting a free Open House at the Flight Discovery Center, located at 3101 Milham Rd., on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 15-17th. All are invited to come and congratulate the team and bid the beautiful aircraft Aloha. Representatives from the Lendo family, who have been avid Air Zoo supporters and donors to this project, will be onsite Friday as they celebrate and take part in the finishing touches.
Those wishing to celebrate further can join the team and community members Saturday evening for a ticketed event. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance.
Aloha 2173 Event:
Reserve your tickets for an exciting and heartwarming send-off event as the community celebrates the hard-working volunteers and staff that got the SBD-2P 2173 ready to go back to Honolulu, Hawaii, just in time for the 80th Anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor commemoration ceremonies. There will be local food trucks and a cash-bar for guests to purchase dinner, snacks and refreshments as well as music merriment and a brief presentation at 6:30pm. The event is open–house-style and Hawaiian attire is encouraged.
About the Air Zoo:
Located at 6151 Portage Rd., Portage, MI 49002, the Air Zoo is a Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace & science experience with over 100 rare air & space craft, inspiring interactive exhibits, indoor amusement park rides, full-motion flight simulators, hands-on science-based education programs, and more. The Air Zoo is a not-for-profit organization and is open 360+ days per year.
For hours, tickets, safety policies and procedures as well as temporarily altered experiences due to COVID-19, visit airzoo.org/plan-your-visit.