Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards (SIHOF)

Join us for an inspiring night at the  

2021 Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards! 

Honoring the past. Celebrating the present. Inspiring what will be.  

The Air Zoo, and the 2021 Presenting Sponsor, Schupan, are excited to announce that the 8th annual Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards (SIHOF) is taking place on October 9, 2021 at 7pm!  Combined with the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame (MAHOF), this festive and interactive event recognizes and encourages Southwest Michigan high school students, K-12 level educators, and local organizations and individuals who have innovated and excelled within, or shown exceptional support of, education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM).  Learn more about SIHOF and MAHOF below!

Please join us as we celebrate our 2021 MAHOF Inductees and SIHOF Awardees at this amazing event!

October 9, 2021  |  7pm (doors open at 5:30)  |  Air Zoo
Tickets only $25!
Advanced Ticketing Required and includes food, live music, raffles, STEAM activities and ceremony as well as meet and greet with the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame inductees and Science Innovation Hall of Fame awardees. Cash bar available.  

Contact Keith Crowell, Director of Development via email or at 269.350.2812 with questions.  

2021 Enshrinees Announced

Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame 

Deceased Inductees

KATHERINE L. CHAMBERLAIN - Pilot - Born in Clare: Chamberlain was born in 1923 and was one of the most prominent woman pilots in Michigan. She received her pilot's license in 1970 and had more than 2,000 hours of flying time. She participated in a powder puff derby race, twelve Michigan air races and five Illinois air races. She was the first woman appointed to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission, where she served two terms and was chairman twice. She was an FAA safety counselor and received three certificates from the State of Michigan for her contributions to aviation. Ms. Chamberlain passed away in 2009.

FREDERICK W. ZINN - Combat Photographer - Born in Galesburg: Zinn graduated from the University of Michigan and was touring Europe when WWI began. He was one of the first 42 Americans to join the French Foreign Legion and fought in several vicious battles and was wounded. He transferred to the French Air Service and became America’s first aerial combat photographer when America entered the war. Zinn was the first American transferred to Gen. Mitchell’s staff and placed in charge of assigning replacement pilots and observers to the front. When the war ended, Zinn proposed to search for missing American airmen. He worked from an office in occupied Berlin, sometimes flying with German ace Ernst Udet. After months of effort, he recovered the remains or personal effects of 195 of 200 missing American airmen and continued his search efforts during World War II while working with the OSS. His Missing Air Crew Reporting System and system of serial numbering of aircraft parts are still used today. Zinn passed away in 1960.

CAPT. RALPH H. FLETCHER, USN, RET. – WWII Navy Pilot, FAA – Born in Portage: Born in 1911, Ralph Fletcher grew up in Portage, MI, and attended Western State Teachers College (now WMU) in Kalamazoo. Eventually graduating in 1932 from the Milwaukee School of Engineering with BS degree in electrical engineering, Fletcher joined the United States Navy in 1937, earned his wings in December of 1938, and served as a carrier pilot assigned to patrol the Pacific Ocean aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga from 1938-39. Reassigned to Scouting Squadron 72 flying from the U.S.S. Wasp, he participated in Atlantic operations until January 1942. At the onset of WWII, then-Lieutenant Fletcher was reassigned to the U.S. Naval Air Station in Miami, FL as a fighter and dive-bomber instructor, and later served as the Commanding Officer of the Air Station’s Night Flying Division. Deployed to the Pacific in 1944 as the Aviation Officer for Amphibious Group 12 (and later the 5th Amphibious Force), Fletcher saw combat throughout the Central and Western Pacific and over Japan. Retiring from active duty in 1946, he served in the Naval Reserves until 1951, and retired at the rank of Captain. As a civilian, Ralph Fletcher briefly served as Senior Test Engineer for the Sikorsky Division of the United Aircraft Corporation, and was then employed by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (now the Federal Aviation Administration), Washington, DC, in multiple capacities from 1946 to 1972, where he eventually retired as Chief, Designation & Documentation of the Airspace Utilization Division, Air Traffic Service.

Living Inductees

CODY WELCH – Commercial Pilot - Resident of MichiganCody Welch earned his commercial & instrument rating on his 18th birthday. He also earned his flight instructor ratings, and aircraft and power plant mechanic’s license. Cody retired as pilot and instructor captain for Northwest Airlines after 23 years and has amassed 38,000 hours flown, having flown 400 types of airplanes. In 2017, he received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, having flown more than 50 years accident free. Cody volunteered to fly EAA’s Ford Trimotors throughout the continental United States with 50,000 passengers flown on more than 7,500 flights. He served 3 terms on the EAA Board of Directors and served on EAA’s Safety Committee as well as Chair of the EAAs Chapter and Young Eagles Board Committee as well as Chair of EAA’s Ford Trimotor ride program. Cody received the EAA President’s Award in 2003 and Volunteer of the Year honors in 2003. Cody currently services as Chief Pilot on Yankee Air Museum’s Ford Trimotor in Ypsilanti. Cody founded Wings of Mercy East Michigan in 1995. He and other volunteer pilots fly patients to medical centers for treatment. Cody has led efforts to save two endangered airports from closing, Linden Price Airport where he has served as Airport Manager since 2000 and Midland Barstow. He founded Seaco Airlines in 1975 with service from Alpena to Oscoda, Cadillac, and Chicago O’Hare. 

VIRGIL WILLIAMS – Private Pilot & Airport Manager - Lives in Plainwell: Virgil Lee Williams was born in Seminole, Oklahoma. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1953. At the 1953 National Intercollegiate Flying Association annual air meet he was awarded the Outstanding Male Pilot trophy. Virgil began his aviation career flying pipeline patrol in Oklahoma as a teen. He joined the Upjohn Company in 1959 where he spent thirty-five years as chief pilot and director of aviation. In 1968, he located a Boeing Stearman in Texas, the first official airplane of the Air Zoo. After retirement, Virgil flew as a captain for legendary golfer Jack Nicholas. In 2005, Virgil Williams was awarded the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award by the FAA in recognition of 50 years of safe flying. Virgil helped form the Michigan Business Aviation Association (MBAA) in 1998. The Virgil and Maurine Williams Family Aviation Endowed Scholarship was established at the Western Michigan College of Aviation in 2008. Virgil has volunteered for more than eighteen years as Plainwell Airport Manager. Virgil helped found the Plainwell Aviation STEM Academy, a non-profit organization that introduces aviation to under privileged children.

LAWRENCE “LARRY” BUSH- U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran- Helicopter Pilot - Born in Muskegon: Lawrence O. Bush was born in Muskegon, Michigan, in 1947. He graduated from Reeths-Puffer High School in 1966 and attended the Illinois Institute of Technology for two years. He left college and enlisted in the U. S. Army and entered Army Warrant Officer training. He graduated near the top of his class and was appointed Warrant Officer and Army Aviator. He finished pilot training qualified in the UH-1 “Huey” Helicopter and the OH-58 light observation helicopter. Larry arrived in Vietnam in the fall of 1970 and flew 1040 combat flight hours, and was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm and Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. After returning home, Larry joined the Michigan Army National Guard and flew UH-1 Huey and OH-58 Scout aircraft for, the Helicnext 20 years. Larry had 3,534 of accident- free flight hours. He retired in 1993 as Chief Warrant Officer 4 and Master Army Aviator with more than 22 years of service.  

What is the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinement? 

The Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame was established in 1987 to recognize men and women who have made significant contributions to aviation. Each year, the Air Zoo is proud to induct a new class of enshrines, who take their place in the Hall of Fame exhibit located inside the Air Zoo. Learn more at  

For questions about nominating someone for the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, email Christy Kincaid or call 269.350.2819 today.  

View the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame Enshrinees through 2020


2021Award Winners Announced

Science Innovation Hall of Fame

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

Educator Excellence Awards

Derek Stoneman
Godwin Heights High School, Grand Rapids

Scott Hanson
Battle Creek Area and Mathematics Science Center, Battle Creek

What are the Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards all about?

Air Zoo Science Innovation Hall of Fame Award TrophiesCombined with the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, this festive and interactive event recognizes West Michigan high school students, K-12 level educators, and local organizations and individuals who have innovated and excelled within, or shown exceptional support of, education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). In order to remain competitive in today’s global economy, it is critical for our youth to excel in these vital disciplines. With over ninety innovative educational programs, including classes, camps, field trips, and off-site outreach, the Air Zoo is spearheading STEAM initiatives in our region and highlighting local careers available in these important fields. Our hope is that the Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards play a major role in encouraging local students and educators to embrace STEAM education, ultimately helping to ensure a thriving local economy for years to come.  

All SIHOF award recipients receive a cash scholarship.  

Award Descriptions:

 Student Excellence Award - $500 Financial Award

The Student Excellence Award honors high school students who excel in the studies of science while also seeking to expand their knowledge and leadership skills outside of the classroom.

Student Art & Science Award - $500 Financial Award

The Student Art & Science Award recognizes a high school student who exemplifies the special harmony between arts and sciences.

Educator Excellence Award - $750 Financial Award

The Educator Excellence Award recognizes excellence and innovation in the teaching of STEAM subjects, the fostering of deep and meaningful student learning, and generation of exceptional student achievement.

Sponsorship Opportunities Available!

Show your support for our region's best and brightest Educators, Students, and Innovators! Download a sponsorship application.  You or your company can play a major role in supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math education in our area!

Interested? Learn more about SIHOF and MAHOF please contact Keith Crowell,  Air Zoo Director of Development via email or at 269.350.2812.

Committed? Complete your sponsorshihp online today!

A Special Thanks to our 2021 Event and Award Sponsors:

Barbara Parish * Barbara and Jerry James * Bowers Aluminum * Cliff Mulder Retirement and Investment Planning of Raymond James * CTS Telecom * Dar & Mary Wellington * Denso Manufacturing * Donna Ward * Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies * Eric & Kelly Dougal *  Esper Electric * First National Bank of Michigan * Imperial Beverage * Jamie Pleune*  Kalamazoo Community Foundation * Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport * KSS Enterprises * Plante Moran * Quality Air * Schupan * The Tyler Little Family Foundation *  WowToyz, Inc. * Zoetis

2020 SIHOF Awards 

Come visit us.