One of the sleekest, most intriguing aircraft in the history of the U.S. military is the subject of a highly anticipated forthcoming event called the Spy-Posium at Kalamazoo’s vaunted Air Zoo, and the public is invited to be a part of it.
The Air Zoo has released details surrounding their fascinating SR-71 Spy-Posium events being held October 4th-through-the-6th at the Flight Innovation Center on Portage Road in Kalamazoo, a top notch destination attraction. An outline of the weekend’s schedule is now available on line for the public. Additional details and announcements will be made public as they become available.
For the first time ever, the Air Zoo is opening the cockpits to the world’s only remaining SR-71B Blackbird for public viewing. You will be able to get first-hand accounts of what makes the Blackbird tick – straight from the mouths of former SR-71 pilots and crew members.
The Air Zoo is offering the opportunity for everyone to learn exciting facts about the spy plane that has captured high-resolution images from over 80,000 feet and flown more than three times the speed of sound, featuring engaging panel discussions, informative Q&A sessions, and the opportunity to check out specially displayed Blackbird artifacts from the Air Zoo collection. Air Zoo officials are encouraging advanced online admission purchasing to avoid lines and guarantee entrance. Information is also available at this link: http://airzoo.org/sr-71-spy-posium
The Air Zoo has announced the tickets to their special evening event and fundraiser, aptly named Blackbird Affair, have officially gone on sale effective at 10am this morning, Friday, August 23rd. The event will be held on Saturday, October 5th from 5:30-10:00 pm. Only 200 tickets will be made available for purchase, with 50 of those tickets to be sold for $250 to guarantee a seat in, and a personal tour of, one of the two cockpits. The remaining 150 tickets will be sold for $100 each and those attendees will have the opportunity to win a seat in a cockpit as well, through several raffle drawings to be held that evening. Raffle tickets will be sold for $20 each. All attendees will enjoy hearty appetizers, private tours of the aircraft and the option to mingle and interact with the former crew members. A cash bar will be available for guests 21 and up.
On Friday, October 4th from 9:00am-to-5:00pm, the cockpits will be open to the public, and former crew members will be on hand to answer questions from 1:00-5:00pm. The morning will consist of special panel discussions for registered school groups.
Also on Friday, October 5th from 9:00am-to-5:00pm, artifact and education stations will be set up as well as scheduled panel discussions and mini tours with former crew members that will be available to visitors all day. Highlights include:
- Educational Floor Show | 9:40am
- Panel 1 with Q&A | 10-11:30am
- 360 Cockpit Discussion with Jerry Glasser | 11:40-12:40pm
- Educational Floor Show | 1:00pm
- Panel 2 with Q&A | 1:30-3:00pm
- Photo Opportunity with Blackbird Crew Members! | 3:00-4:00pm
- Blackbird Affair | 5:30-10:00pm
This is a private, ticketed event. Tickets are now on sale as indicated above.
On Saturday, October 6th from 10 to 5pm, the following activities take place:
- Special Air Zoo Members Only Hour | 9:00am-10:00am. Members receive early entry into the museum and have the opportunity to meet crew members and view the cockpits.
- Artifact and education stations as well as scheduled panel discussions and mini tours with former crew members will be available to visitors all day.
- Educational Floor Show | 10:30am
- Panel 1 with Q&A | 11:00-12:30pm
- 360 Cockpit Discussion with Jerry Glasser | 12:40-1:40pm
- Educational Floor Show | 2:00pm
- Panel 2 with Q&A | 2:30-4:00pm
Special SR-71 Spy-Posium guests and speakers will include:
- Buz Carpenter – SR-71 Instructor Pilot
- Donald Campbell, CM – SR-71 Maintenance Superintendent & Crew Chief
- Floyd Jones, Msgt. Ret USAF – Quality Control Supervisor & Field Service Engineer
- Jerry Glasser – SR-71 Instructor Pilot & Director of Simulator and Aircraft Systems Training
- Lewis A. Sulzle – Chief Master Sergeant (Ret) United States Air Force, Systems Engineer, Senior Staff, (Ret) Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company
- Mike Relja – CM – Flight Test Project Administrative Officer & Quality Assurance Specialist / NASA Quality Assurance Group Lead
- Stormy Boudreaux – SR-71 Pilot
- Stephen Justice – Lockheed Skunk Works Historian and Senior Engineer
- John Murphy – SR-71 Reconnaissance Systems Officer Instructor
- John Mamzi – SR-71 Reconnaissance Systems Officer
- Dave Burns Msgt – SR-71 Crew Chief and Crew Chief on aircraft 956 – The Air Zoo Trainer
The popular Air Zoo of Kalamazoo is located at 6151 Portage Road in Portage, Michigan. 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 and info, visit airzoo.org.
The photo of the SR71 Blackbird spy plane accompanying this story on Moody on the Market is courtesy of the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo.