Discovery Series

The Air Zoo’s Discovery Series is a compilation of events and activities, created with a few specific things in mind for a multi-generational audience – inspiration, education, opportunity, and entertainment! The team at the Air Zoo has inspired youthful imaginations across the region for nearly a decade and has found that the desire for inspiration, education and engagement really spans all ages. From simply outstanding to world-famous, you will find an array of inspiring programs and remarkable humans in the Air Zoo’s Discovery Series. From engineers, scientists and aviators, to change-makers and trend-setters, you are sure to find programs, speakers and subjects that ignite your imagination and speak to your interest. Join us, and be inspired as you mingle with featured aerospace pioneers from across the globe!

2022's Lineup

Discovering Shaba with Captain Thad Darger

Saturday, July 30, 2022 | 6:30pm |  $10/ticket
Air Zoo Flight Discovery Center, 3101 E. Milham Rd., Portage MI

Former F-117 Nighthawk pilot Captain Thad Darger will be visiting the Air Zoo and sharing his exciting journey with the 8th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Wing, of Holloman Air Force Base. Captain Darger was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for missions flown in our F-117 Nighthawk, Shaba. The Air Zoo's dedicated restoration volunteers are gearing up for the event as they complete the detailing, which matches the paint scheme under Captain Darger's command. Don't miss your opportunity to meet him!

Thad Darger is a native of Sioux Falls, SD who attended the United States Air Force Academy prior to serving on active duty as an Air Force pilot for over eleven years.  Thad accumulated almost 3,000 flight hours in the T-38, B-1, and F-117 Stealth Fighter.  Thad flew multiple combat missions in the Stealth Fighter in 1999 during Operation Allied Force over Yugoslavia and Kosovo, attacking multiple strategic targets during the conflict.  Following his Air Force career, Thad was a United Airlines Pilot and for the past twenty years has been involved in sales leadership for a variety of medical device companies. 

Thad has been married for over thirty-one years to his wife, Danyel, and they have four children including a daughter that currently serves as an Instructor Pilot in the C-17 Globemaster in Charleston, SC.  Thad and Danyel have lived in Central Massachusetts for the past eighteen years. 

Thad’s various Air Force decorations include, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Aerial Achievement Medal, and Air Force Commendation Medal.

announcing the return

SR-71 Spy-posium

Tours and panels August 12-15  
Blackbird Affair Saturday, August 13 | Tickets & Info Coming Soon

Have you heard that one of the Air Zoo's most exciting events of 2019, the SR-71 Spy-posium is returning?? Mark your calendars now for August 12-15th, as this event is back and will be bigger, stealthier and more fun than ever before.  We will be welcoming nearly 20 Blackbird pilots, RSOs, crew members, and historians for a four-day event that will bring visitors of all ages, from across the country to talk reconnaissance missions, flying Mach 3, Skunk Works programs, craft beer, one-of-a-kind engineering and more. Thousands of guests will enjoy one on one tours with our featured guests, discovery panels, cockpit and aircraft tours and the opportunity to sit in the cockpit for a tour with one of the pilots or RSOs through a private, ticketed event. The weekend is guaranteed to be one of 2022's best! 

Watch for more information - coming soon! 

Sydney Hamilton

Mark your calendars!!  Thursday, September 29  |  TBD  

Sydney Hamilton always wanted to fly. So it's no surprise that she now works for the Boeing Company, on an advance design team utilizing the latest techology and innovation in design.

She has analyzed the first commercial aircraft with folding wing tips (777X plane), additively manufactured (3D printed) parts for spacecrafts and is currently the Responsible Engineering Authority for reflectors on satellites. In an industry where less than 5 percent the work force are African American women, Sydney is proud to continue breakdown barriers and pave the way for the next generation of leaders.Sydney was notably named an IF/Then Ambassador for the American Association of the Advancement of Science in 2019; whose mission is to encourage middle school girls to pursue STEM.

Join us for an energetic first person account of Sydeny's story, how her work is shrinking the globe and her mission to teach and expose underrepresented youth more about STEM. Event details comming soon!

Tickets coming soon


Want to see who you have missed? Check out our Discovery Series Archive!

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