Air Zoo co-founder Suzanne U.D. Parish lived a remarkable life, both on earth and in the sky.
This exhibit celebrates just a few of her many achievements from her early horse-riding days to serving with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), raising a family, earning honors such as the Congressional Medal of Honor and Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, and co-founding the Air Zoo.
As a young woman during World War II (1939-1945), Sue DeLano (later Parish) combined her deep civic pride and her love of flying to help the war effort. On January 6, 1944, Sue arrived by cattle train to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, to join the 14th Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) class.
Sue and Pete loved flying and warbirds. By the 1970s, they’d acquired a nice aircraft collection. Fellow flyer Gunther Balz made the couple an offer: “If you start a museum,” he said, “I’ll give you my Bearcat.” Sue and Pete agreed and launched the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, which opened to the public on November 18, 1979. Success followed, and so did the need for more space! In April 2004, a new Air Zoo experience was born with our new Flight Innovation Center building.
Sue retired from flying on March 17, 1999, having logged a total of 8,122.2 flight hours or 338 days in the air. Sue stayed busy! She remained active with her family and the community, took up photography, and made time to write her memoirs in a wonderful book published in 2012.