Inspiration and Celebration Take on New Form at Air Zoo Events This Fall

The team at the Air Zoo is busily preparing for an exciting assortment of inspiring, educational, and in-person events that will take place from September 23rd through October 17th.

Discovery Series

Kicking off, not only the fall events calendar, but also a new Speaker Series at the Air Zoo, is Mr. Norman Haynes with his first-person account – Launching NASA across the solar system, one “failure” at a time. Haynes, a Kalamazoo Native, and Kalamazoo Central graduate (1954), will be featured in the inaugural speaker series event to be held on Thursday, September 23rd at the Air Zoo. Doors will open at 6:30pm for mingling, snacks, and a cash-bar, with the presentation beginning at 7pm. Haynes will share his extraordinary journey as the Director of Mars Exploration, Jet Propulsion Lab (retired), and the hurdles, disappointments and on-the-spot ingenuity that led to the triumphant success of two groundbreaking missions – Mariner 4 and Voyager 2 – which led to exciting new discoveries on Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, and beyond! The lecture will conclude with an interactive Q&A and meet and greet. Seats are limited and tickets are just $25 ($20 for Air Zoo Members) in advance and $30 at the door. Additional information and ticketing at

Science Innovation Hall of Fame & Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame Awards

The Air Zoo team is also planning for the exciting return of an in-person Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards night, following a virtual ceremony in 2020. Join in the celebration Saturday, October 9 as they celebrate the 8th annual Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards. Doors open at 5:30pm and the ceremony will begin at 7pm. Proceeds from the event help to support the Air Zoo’s Science Inspiration Fund Scholarship program which, in 2019, supported more than 3,900 students who qualified for low- to no-cost high-impact hands-on Air Zoo STEAM education programs.

The evening will be inspiring, entertaining, and jovial as attendees honor the past, celebrate the present and inspire what will be with community members, family, and friends both old and new. Tickets are only $25 ($20 for Air Zoo Members) and include food, live music, STEAM and hands-on activities, raffles, collections sneak peeks, the 2021 class of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame induction, and the Science Innovation Hall of Fame awards ceremony. Seating is limited and advanced ticketing is required. for information and ticketing.

On behalf of the Air Zoo, the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, and 2021 event underwriter, Shupan, Troy Thrash, President and CEO of the Air Zoo, and Tim Keenan, Chairman of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame Committee are proud to recognize the following individuals:

2021 Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame Enshrinees

  • Katherine L. Chamberlain, Pilot (deceased) – Clare
  • Friedrich W. Zinn, Combat Photographer (deceased) – Galesburg
  • Capt. Ralph E. Fletcher, USN, Retired, WWII Navy Pilot, FAA (deceased) – Portage
  • Cody Welch, Commercial Pilot – Alpena
  • Virgil Williams, Private Pilot and Airport Manager – Resides in Plainwell
  • Lawrence “Larry” Bush, U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran, Helicopter Pilot – Muskegon

2021 Educator Excellence Awards

  • Derek Stoneman – Godwin Heights High School, Grand Rapids
  • Scott Hanson – Battle Creek Area and Mathematics Science Center, Battle Creek

2021 Student Excellence Awards

  • Tyler Bowers – Portage Northern High School
  • Emerson Wesselhoff – Loy Norrix High School, Kalamazoo Area Mathematics & Science Center
  • Alyssa Park – Portage Central High School, Kalamazoo Area Mathematics & Science Center
  • Matthew Salinas – Kalamazoo Central High School, Kalamazoo Area Mathematics & Science Center

Aloha 2173

Save the date! A celebratory, yet tearful, farewell to an aircraft whose history and inspiring story have been a labor of love for more than 1000 volunteers, students, donors, community members, Lendo family members and friends for more than five and a half years, will take place Friday October 15 – 17th. Join the volunteers, staff, and community as they celebrate the completion of this National Treasure during a three-day open house at the Flight Discovery Center, on E. Milham Rd. in Portage. The Air Zoo’s restoration team is excited to share the completed Douglas SBD-2P Dauntless, Bu. No. 2173, for three short days before they begin taking it apart to crate and ship to Pearl Harbor, for its dedication during their 80th Anniversary of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor commemoration ceremony. All are encouraged to come out and say farewell.