One of the first Lockheed F-117 Nighthawks will soon be on public display after parts of the aircraft were delivered to the Air Zoo in Portage last week.
“I really can’t believe the time has finally come to sign for and start this exciting journey back to southwest Michigan with the first operational Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk released for public display east of the Rockies,” Air Zoo President and CEO Troy Thrash said as he prepped for the trip to Tonopah, Nevada, on Nov. 30. “This is a monumental event for not only the Air Zoo family but for everyone in southwest Michigan, and this positive news could not have come at a better time.”
The aircraft, nicknamed Shaba, represents the U.S. Air Force’s first active military stealth aircraft. The Air Zoo is expected to be the first nongovernmental facility in the country and the only museum in Michigan to publicly display an F-117.
The aircraft’s wings and tail fins arrived in Kalamazoo on Dec. 5 after traveling 1,940 miles on trucks; the fuselage arrived last week. The Air Zoo team will be partnering with a team from the Tonopah Test Range to connect Shaba’s main components for display on the Flight Discovery Center’s exhibit floor.
The Air Zoo’s restoration team will work to recreate the aircraft’s leading edges and paint it for display at the Flight Innovation Center near the end of 2021.
While under restorative care, Shaba will be available for guests to see up close.