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MAC and MDOT announce award winners for outstanding achievements in improving Michigan aviation

LANSING, Mich. – At their Sept. 13 meeting held in Muskegon in conjunction with the Michigan Association of Airport Executives (MAAE) fall conference, the Michigan Aeronautics Commission (MAC) and Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced the award winners for achievements in promoting and improving aviation. These awards are presented to airports, aviators, professionals, consultants, and others. Here is a list of the 2023 award winners:

  • General Aviation Airport of the Year Award: The Saginaw County H.W. Browne Airport was selected for its attentive care and commitment to airport management and operations, as well as the customer care and service the airport provides to the community. The airport received their award at the March MAC meeting.


  • Commercial Service Airport of the Year Award: The Chippewa County International Airport in Kincheloe was selected for proactively pursuing airport grant funding and opportunities that benefit the airport, region, and community. The airport’s hard work in securing supplemental discretionary funds from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowed work on a beautiful new, multi-million-dollar terminal, which opened in fall 2022. The entire region has benefitted economically and gained a real asset that will solidify partnerships in aviation and improve access to the rest of the world.


  • Aviation Professional of the Year Award: Kelly Jost, P.E., Great Lakes Service Group manager – Aviation of C&S Companies in Livonia, was selected for outstanding work in supporting aviation education, recruitment, and retention in Michigan. Jost’s mission to promote aeronautic careers for women and underserved populations is commendable and will leave a lasting impact on airport communities well into the future.


  • Aviator of the Year Award: Virgil Williams, airport manager at the Plainwell Municipal Airport in Plainwell, was selected for outstanding service to Michigan’s aviation community. Throughout his career, Williams actively promoted safety and educational opportunities at the airport.


  • Aviation Community Involvement Award: Sarah Pagano, airport manager at the Jack Barstow Airport in Midland, was selected for outstanding work in bringing together the airport and the Midland community. Pagano’s efforts in providing fun and educational experiences at the airport created an interest in aviation for all members of the community, which will leave positive impacts well into the future. Pagano received her award at the March MAC meeting.


Consultant of the Year Award: LimnoTech in Ann Arbor, was selected for outstanding per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) work for Michigan’s aviation community. LimnoTech has provided high quality environmental analysis and is being recognized for service in advocating to have a better understanding of PFAS issues at airports nationally.

“Congratulations to this year’s awards winners and thank you for your contributions to improving Michigan aviation,” said Mike Trout, MAC director and MDOT Office of Aeronautics administrator. “Their outstanding work has not gone unnoticed to the MAC, MDOT, and the aviation community.”

The MAC and MDOT have recognized airports, individuals, and organizations whose innovative contributions have led to significant improvements to facilities, operations, or public relations that support aviation in Michigan. The MAC is responsible for the general supervision of aeronautics within Michigan.

MAC Kelly Jost

Kelly Jost (left) of C&S Companies receives Aviation Professional of the Year Award from Mike Trout (right)

Chris Cieciek (left) of LimnoTech accepts Consultant of the Year Award from Mike Trout (right).

Tami Beseau (left) of the Chippewa County International Airport receives the Commercial Airport of the Year Award from Mike Trout (right).

Sarah Pagano (left) of the Jack Barstow Midland Airport and Steve Smigelski, MAAE President. Pagano received the Aviation Community Involvement Award and MAAE Airport Manager of the Year.

Not pictured: The Saginaw County H.W. Browne Airport recipient for the General Aviation Airport of the Year Award and Virgil Williams for the Aviator of the Year Award.

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