Celebrating The Completion of FM-2 Wildcat Recovered From Lake Michigan

To celebrate this incredible milestone, the Air Zoo invites community members to join them on Saturday, June 8, between 9 AM and 5 PM for an open house at the Flight Discovery Center.

[Photo via Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Experience]


On Saturday, June 8th 2024 the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, MI will celebrate the hard work of its dedicated volunteers and staff who have invested more than 50,000 hours over the past decade restoring a FM-2 Wildcat (as previously reported by Vintage Aviation News), which was recovered from the bottom of Lake Michigan after nearly 70 years.

General Motors FM-2 Wildcat BuNo. 57039 was used to train U.S. Navy pilots in the Great Lakes region during WWII. During a training flight, piloted by Ensign William E. Forbes on December 18th 1944, this Wildcat rolled off the deck of the USSSable and was cut in two as the fuselage was struck by one of the ship’s paddle wheels. Forbes was not injured during the incident, but the Wildcat sank 200 feet to the bottom of Lake Michigan. There it rested for 68 years until it was retrieved on December 7th 2012 by A and T Recovery on behalf of the National Naval Aviation Museum and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. The aircraft was in extremely poor condition when it arrived at the Air Zoo’s Restoration Center, one of the premier aircraft restoration facilities in the country, on August 5th 2013.  

Wings folded to allow enough working space, the Wildcat sits in the Air Zoo’s restoration shop. [Photo via Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Experience]

Now, after a decade of research and labor, this beautifully restored aircraft will remain on exhibit at the Air Zoo’s Flight Discovery Center (FDC) for a brief time before departing for its permanent home at the American Heritage Museum in Hudson, MA. 

In celebration of this incredible milestone, the Air Zoo would like to invite members of the community to join them on Saturday, June 8th between 9am and 5pm for an open house at the FDC, located at 3101 E. Milham Ave, Kalamazoo, MI. This event will provide guests an opportunity to view the newly completed Wildcat and to congratulate the Restoration Team on a job well done. Details can be found at airzoo.org/events. 

Members of the Air Zoo team pose proudly with the fuselage of the Wildcat. [Photo via Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Experience]

About the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Center 

The Air Zoo is a Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science experience with over 100 rare air and spacecraft, hands-on exhibits, indoor amusement rides, full-motion flight simulators, inspiring educational programs, and more. The Air Zoo is a not-for-profit organization and is open 360+ days a year. For hours, tickets, event schedule, and more visit airzoo.org. 


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