The sheer vastness of space is mesmerizing. I remember when I first met this fascination. Like a lot of kids growing up in Mid-Michigan, we would take field trips. The Detroit Institute of ArtHidden Lake Gardens, and the Dahlem Center were regular stops for a lot of schools in Jackson County but, my favorite was the Michigan Space and Science Museum.

The structure still stands on the campus of Jackson College, but it's what isn't there that captured the imaginations of a lot of kids. A towering Mercury rocket, huge rocket engines, and a Pegasus Micrometiorode Satellite greeted you as you pulled into the parking lot.

Kristen Milling via YouTube
Kristen Milling via YouTube

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Weathered by the elements but still awe-inspiring that these idle objects were in some way responsible for propelling mankind into the vacuum of space. I was hooked and I hadn't even seen the actual Apollo 9 capsule, the Mercury simulator, or the rest of the hidden treasures that were waiting inside.

The Space Center closed and the majority of the collection now resides at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. Head north from there on 131 for a little over an hour and you can visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Grand Rapids. There you can learn about how the then US House Minority Leader, Congressman Ford challenged Congress to investigate the Southern Michigan UFO sightings. He then called the United States Air Forces attempt to explain away the sightings as swamp gas 'flippant'. Those were pretty strong words at that time.

Michigan's President Gerald Ford's UFO Papers

In June of 1966, following a number of unidentified flying objects spotted in Southern Michigan and other parts of the country, then United States Congressman Gerald R. Ford took the United States Air Force to task for trying to dismiss his constituents' sightings as the result of swamp gas. Here are the papers, courtesy of the Gerald R Ford Presidential Library & Museum.


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