Michigan Maritime Museum Lecture Series

   Community Announcements | Posted on March 7, 2018

The Michigan Maritime Museum will be hosting Troy Thrash, President & CEO of Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum Wednesday, March 14th from 6:30pm-7:30pm for his talk "Air Zoo - Restoring the Past, Igniting the Future." This talk will explore the factors that spurred the Air Zoo's remarkable growth and will dive deeply into the restoration of Lake Michigan aircraft.  Guests will be able to experience artifacts of military, aviation, and space history pulled from the Air Zoo's vast collection; see a science experiment used to inspire local youth; and enjoy the opportunity to view and hold "before and after" pieces from the Wildcat and SBD currently in restoration.

The Air Zoo has had a remarkable almost-four-decade run of inspiring our southwest Michigan communities through aviation and space.  Over the past five years, the museum has begun to evolve into an interactive aerospace and science experience.  With new hands-on educational programs and exhibits, as well as a new value proposition to the region, the Air Zoo has grown in participation over the past four years more than four times faster than the average of the Top 20 museums in the country.  One significant factor in this growth is the participatory restoration of WWII aircraft from Lake Michigan.  The Air Zoo is currently restoring a Grumman FM-2 Wildcat and a Douglas Dauntless SBD 2-P, both of which have been on the bottom of the lake for at least 65 years.  As the team of 75 restoration volunteers continues to invite schools, community organizations, and public visitors to not only see the aircraft up close on the exhibit floor but also to work directly on one of these historic airplanes, the U.S. Navy continues to stress how the Air Zoo's restoration program is THE inspirational and educational model for all restorations of Navy assets across the country. 

Thrash's life-long dedication to science and engineering were sewn one evening in Northampton, PA. when a seven-year-old Troy was "finally brave enough" to go outside with his golden retriever, Biscuit, to view the majestic universe above. Thrash earned a bachelor's degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Villanova University. Following his studies, he worked with the Science Planning Team at the Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md., where he scheduled scientific observations with the Hubble Space Telescope for astronomers across the globe. Thrash entered the aerospace industry as a Senior Aerospace Engineer for Analytical Graphics, Inc., Malvern, Pa., where he was the Lead Technical Marketer, Systems Engineer, and Programmer of the world's leading space analysis software. He joined Futron Corporation, a leading aerospace consulting firm in Bethesda, Md., as a Senior Program Manager, and later became Futron's Division Director of Space and Telecommunications. In those roles, Thrash managed several large-scale projects for clients including the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, International Launch Services, the U.S. Strategic Command, and the National Strategic Space Office. He became the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Air Zoo in 2013. In this position he runs all aspects of the day-to-day operations of the Air Zoo. He is responsible for leading the Air Zoo as it delivers exhibits and programs to inspire and educate youth and adults in aviation, space, and other science and technology disciplines while ensuring the organization operates in a fiscally-responsible fashion.

"It is truly our pleasure to host Air Zoo and such an accomplished guest as Mr. Thrash," says Ashley Deming, Museum Director of Education and Administration. "Our newest exhibit Lake Michigan's Call to Duty features some artifacts from the restored planes at Air Zoo as well as a loaned scaled model of the USS Wolverine, one of two converted Great Lakes steamers converted to aircraft carriers for the WWII pilot training with which these planes were involved." The lectures will all be located at the Museum inside their newest WWII themed exhibit that opened last spring. The Michigan Maritime Museum Lecture Series will run once a month through April and will center around WWII maritime topics.

Admission is $8, $7 for seniors.  There is no admission fee for Museum members. Tickets will include admission to the Museum's newest exhibit, Lake Michigan's Call to Duty. For more information, contact the Museum at 269-637-8078 or visit www.michiganmaritimemuseum.org/events/.