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2017 Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame (MAHF) Enshrinees

Each spring, the Air Zoo celebrates the current year's Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinees at a Gala event as part of the Air Zoo Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards. For ticket information pertaining to this year's event, please click HERE.

A complete list of MAHF Enshrinees can be viewed HERE.

2017 MAHF Enshrinees

Cyrus Bettis

Lt. Cyrus K. Bettis, USA
Instructor and Race Pilot - Born in Carsonville

Lt. Cyrus Bettis was born in 1893, and acquired his pilot's license in 1916 at the O.E. Williams Flying School in Fenton, MI. He entered military service, and after graduating from the School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Illinois, completed flight training at Wichita Falls, TX in Sept. 1918. After flying combat missions in France during WWI, he transferred to the Philippines where he trained pilots, served on patrol duty, and was one of the first pilots in the 1st Pursuit Squadron to fly at night. In representing the Army at air races and expositions in 1925, he won both the John L. Mitchell Trophy Race and Pulitzer Trophy Race at the International Air Races at Mitchell Field, NY. Bettis established the world speed record, flying 100 kilometers at 401.269 kph mph and 200 kilometers at 400.686 kph mph. He was awarded the Mackay Trophy that same year. Bettis died of spinal meningitis in 1926. The Pittsburgh- McKeesport Airport was renamed Bettis Field in his honor.

Read full bio HERE.

2017 mahf j. d. ramsey

James D. "Jay" Ramsey
Military and Civilian Pilot - Director of Michigan Aeronautics Commission

James Ramsey graduated from the University of Nebraska and was a licensed pilot beginning in 1938 with Commercial, Instructor, Instrument, Single and Multi-Engine Land ratings. He had more than 14,000 hours of flying time. He joined the USAAF in 1944 and was assigned to Air Transport Command and Combat Cargo in the China-Burma-India Theater, flying "the Hump": military transport from India to China over the Himalayas. He was appointed to the National Security Resources Board during the Korean War and served as the director of the Nebraska Aeronautics Commission from 1947 to 1956. Ramsey came to Michigan in 1956 as the regional administrator of the Federal Civil Defense Administration. He was appointed as the director of Michigan Aeronautics Commission in 1957, and served until 1979. During that time, aviation in Michigan grew from 130 to 322 licensed airports, 2,564 to 6,513 registered aircraft and 2,000 to 17,000 registered pilots. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three battle stars, EAA Individual Achievement, AOPA Meritorious Service, Michigan Minuteman Governor's Award, Scheduled Air Carriers Award and NASAO Distinguished Service. Ramsey passed away in 1991.

Read full bio HERE.

2017 mahf jim devossLt. James L. DeVoss, USAF, Retired
U. S. Air Force Combat Pilot, Motivational Speaker, Business Manager - Born in Grand Rapids

Lt. James L. DeVoss attended elementary, high school, and junior college in Grand Rapids, MI and graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in Zoology and Chemistry. After joining the United States Air Force in 1967, he trained as an F-105 Thunderchief pilot and was eventually deployed to fly combat missions in Vietnam and Northern Laos. On June 16, 1969, Lt. DeVoss's aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and he was forced to eject at more than 700 miles per hour. Seriously injured with three broken limbs, Lt. DeVoss survived due to his precise adherence to correct emergency procedures, and his rescue from behind enemy lines was filmed and used, both then and now, in an Air Force rescue training film titled Faces of Rescue. For the last 45 years, Lt. DeVoss has shown the film and lectured for countless groups and organizations free of charge, emphasizing the depth of training of each U.S. Air Force pilot, the importance of each pilot to the Air Force, and his own personal patriotic dedication to our country and our military forces. Lt. DeVoss was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Force Presidential Citation, the National Defense Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal.

Employed by the Amway Corporation from 1972 through 2015, Mr. DeVoss was responsible for the creation and initial management of nine American-owned locally-operated Middle and Eastern Europe affiliates of the company.

Read full bio HERE.

2017 mahf gen. piotrowski

Gen. John L. "Pete" Piotrowski, USAF, Retired
Combat Pilot, USAF Vice Chief-Commander NORAD - Born in Detroit

Born in Detroit in 1934, Gen. John Piotrowski rose from USAF enlisted rank to 4-star general and eventually served as Vice Chief of Staff, USAF, Commander of North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), and Commander of U.S. Space Command. After enlisting in the U.S. Air Force in 1952, he was assigned to Keelser AFB, Mississippi, as a student in electronics and radar. Commissioned second lieutenant in 1954, he received advanced training in electronic countermeasures and was deployed to Korea and Japan in 1955 as an electronic warfare officer and RB-26 navigator. Upon his return to the U.S., he completed pilot training and flew 210 combat hours in 100 missions during three combat tours in Vietnam, two in B-26s and one in F4Ds. In all, he flew 7,000 hours in 33 aircraft types, including the F-15 and F-16. Along the way, he graduated from the University of Nebraska and did post-graduate work at Southern California, Auburn and Harvard.
With increasing responsibility, he became Vice Commander of the Tactical Air Command and commanded the Ninth Air Force with a dozen bases and 600 aircraft. He was promoted to 4-star general in 1985, one of only 13 in the U.S. Air Force, and became Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force and a member of the Joint Chiefs. He assumed command of NORAD in 1987. General Piotrowski acted as principal adviser to the U.S. President and the Canadian Prime Minister on possible missile and space attacks against North America. He retired in 1990 after 37 years of service, eight commands and 15 years as a General Officer.

Read full bio HERE.

2017 mahf j. david vanderveen

J. David Vanderveen, AAE
Aviation Executive, Airport Manager - Born in Grand Rapids

J. David VanderVeen is the longest-serving accredited airport executive of the American Association of Airport Executives, having served the State of Michigan for the last fifty years. An active member of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission, he served as chairman in 2012 and 2013, and currently oversees the operation of three general aviation airports in Oakland County, including Michigan's second busiest: Oakland County International Airport (OCIA). Under Mr. VanderVeen s leadership, the OCIA terminal uses geothermal heating and cooling, solar and wind electric energy, solar water heating, and other eco-technologies that have reduced energy consumption in the terminal by 45 percent. Mr. VanderVeen installed the first airport-wide fuel-water separation in Michigan, protecting the nearby ground water of five river watersheds from aviation fuel spills. Under his leadership, OCIA has never been closed because of snow for over fifty years. Mr. VanderVeen has received numerous awards and honors for airport management, holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Michigan. He became a licensed private pilot in 1974.

Read full bio HERE.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program