After several years of effort, the Yankee Air Museum now officially owns the remaining 144,000 square foot section of the old Ford Bomber Plant at Willow Run in Ypsilanti, Michigan. WarbirdsNews has been following this project since its inception, and is proud to have supported the fund raising campaign throughout the process (click HERE to read our previous articles). News broke in June that the Yankee Air Museum had come to an agreement with the RACER Trust overseeing the facility’s post-shutdown disposal, but the formal inking of the deal took place on Thursday, October 30th in a special signing ceremony.
Shortly after the signing, the museum’s Boeing B-17G “Yankee Lady” flew overhead as the Yankee Air Museum unveiled their new name. They will now become the National Museum of Aviation and Technology at Historic Willow Run. While the new name doesn’t slip as easily off the tongue perhaps, but it will reflect the broadened role that the museum will now undertake. In addition to promoting the history of military aviation, the new facility will become a living classroom to the vital contributions made at the Ford Bomber Plant, and in the region as a whole towards the fight in WWII; not least of which was the massive inclusion of women in the US workforce. And as is becoming de rigueur with modern museums, the new facility will also strive to weave elements of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) into the curriculum for visiting school children. Considering the marvelous examples of operable aeronautical equipment which the museum will have on offer, there should be plenty of fascinating teaching opportunities available for visitors of any age.
Now that the Bomber Plant has a safe future, the museum has to focus on refurbishing it for active use. This is expected to cost another US$5Million on top of the roughly US$8Million already raised. The reconstruction effort is already under way, and includes US$1.5Million in aid from the state legislature. The main runway at Willow Run has also just received a US$45Million refit as well, so when the new museum opens as expected in 2017, it will be to a greatly improved infrastructure as well. Any of our readers who wish to help should visit the link HERE to find out how.