The Yankee Air Museum launched a $5 million fundraising drive last week that it hopes will lead to the museum taking over a portion of the sprawling Willow Run manufacturing plant that was built during World War Two by Henry Ford to manufacture B-24 Liberator bombers and was most recently owned by General Motors for the production of automotive powertrains, as we recently reported.
The current owner of the Willow Run Plant, the RACER Trust, was established to sell the property and other former General Motors facilities that were shed during the automakers’ recent bankruptcy. RACER has agreed to give Yankee Air Museum and the Michigan Aerospace Foundation until August 1, 2013 to come up with the $8 million necessary to purchase the land and begin renovations.
Reportedly $5 million has already been raised through the Michigan Aerospace Foundation and about $1/2 million has already been raised by Yankee Air Museum. Roughly $3 million of funds already raised will go towards the final $8 million needed, leaving $5 million left to be raised. Last week’s event marked the beginning of a three month intensive fundraising program that is described as three-pronged, drawing 60% of the needed funding from large donors, the middle range expected to bring about 20%, and the final 20% coming from the local communities and communities of interest, drawing upon the aviation and historical interest groups across the country to help bring the fundraising effort across the finish line.
At the fundraising event Museum Chairman Ray Hunter announced the possibility of obtaining a Ford built B-24 to be displayed at the museum and indicated that the museum has been in contact with the National Museum of the US Air Force regarding the possible acquisition of one, though no final arrangement has been made.