Together, We’ve Come a Long Way!

We’ve saved Rosie’s factory, now it’s time to fill it with history…

With overwhelming nationwide support from people like you, we’ve raised $8 million to purchase and preserve 144,000 sq. ft. of the historic WWII Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti, MI. Now, we need to raise the funds necessary to build the interior facilities and exhibits of the exciting new museum that we have planned!

It’s not too late to “Do Your Part,” and receive the official Willow Run Bomber Plant Preservation Certificate… still available through the end of the year… proof that YOU are one of the special people who helped “Save the Willow Run Bomber Plant!” You can dedicate your donation in honor of your own personal hero or heroine.

October 30, 2014:  We are excited to announce today that our portion of the historic Willow Run Bomber Plant is to be preserved as a NEW home for the Yankee Air Museum (read the details at this link), and we extend a heartfelt thanks to the many amazing people and organizations who helped us make this happen. It could not have been accomplished without you! But, your support is still needed…

If these walls could talk… they’d tell a story. Of American know-how. Of social change. Of a country that pulled together, to get a tough job done. It’s a story to inspire future generations. Let’s tell it at Willow Run!

Now that our part of the plant has been saved, there’s still a long way to go to turn it into a museum. With one entire wall, part of another, and all utilities gone with the rest of the building, the money we’ve raised so far will be instrumental in restoring the building’s infrastructure. Our next task is to raise the funds needed to renovate the interior and prepare it to house the exciting exhibits we have planned!

You, too, can be a part of this great effort … just click here to join the group of very special people and organizations who have contributed already.

 

Why is the Willow Run Bomber Plant so Important?

At the peak of its production during World War II, the Willow Run Plant employed 42,000 workers, as much as one third of whom were pioneering women industrial workers, collectively nicknamed “Rosie the Riveter.” Willow Run produced more aircraft every month on its mile-long assembly line than Imperial Japan did in a year, earning it, and the area surrounding southeast Michigan, worldwide fame as the center of America’s “Arsenal of Democracy.” The nationwide American “Production Miracle,” of which Willow Run was the finest and most ambitious example, was a critical factor in ending the deadliest conflict in history.

Before Willow Run, it was deemed impossible to build aircraft on an assembly line. It took Consolidated Aircraft in California one month to build a B-24 Liberator 4-engine heavy bomber from the ground up. Henry Ford, his engineers and builders, and the dedicated workers that flowed into Michigan from every state and territory, proved that not only could bombers be built on a line, they could be produced at the astonishing rate of one per hour.

Willow Run was at the front and center of an unprecedented era of expanded opportunity. WWII was a time when everybody, from the Tuskegee Airmen to Rosie the Riveter, was asked to “Do Their Part,” and in the process, proved that “We Can Do It!” Willow Run, as the as largest factory under one roof in the world, with equal pay for equal work, firmly laid the groundwork for sweeping social change.

World War II was a time when all Americans pulled together to join with their Allies and literally “save the world.” Everybody from the President, to our great industrialists, to the working men and women determined to “Keep ‘em Flying,” supported a common goal. From housewives casting aside their aprons to take up welding torches in the California shipyards or rivet guns at Willow Run, to kids collecting scrap metal to be melted down for tanks… From glamorous Hollywood A-listers serving coffee and dancing with servicemen at the Hollywood Canteen, to Little People fresh off the “Wizard of Oz” movie set working in the tight center wing section of Willow Run’s bombers… From everybody buying as many War Bonds as they could afford, to enduring rationing of everything from butter to tires to nylons “for the duration”… This was truly our finest hour as Americans, and a story to inspire future generations. What better place to tell it than a preserved portion of Willow Run?

Is our goal impossible? Not at all! It will cost an estimated of $8 million to save part of the plant as the new, improved home of the Yankee Air Museum and its flyable WWII-era aircraft, including the majestic Yankee Lady B-17. The vast majority of the funds needed are for “separation” costs to make the remaining portion of the building viable after the rest of the plant is demolished, taking one wall and all utilities with it. The purchase price of the building is generously low, but in order to be allowed to purchase “our” part of the plant, we must show that we have the support… and the funds… to make our dream a reality. Afterwards, we then have to raise more funds to renovate the interior, move the existing Yankee Air Museum into the new facility, and build new and expanded exhibits.

Redevelopment of the Willow Run property as a connected vehicle research center  is currently underway. Our vision of the Yankee Air Museum housed in a preserved portion of the Plant would complete the picture of a revitalizing cluster of community assets at Willow Run, with the history and future of American transportation technology showcased side by side.

Amazingly, $8 million needed to “Save” the Plant has been raised in a little over a year, and support for the campaign has been overwhelming! Fundraising efforts will now shift from the $8 million needed to buy, preserve, and secure our 144,000 sq. ft. portion of the building as a viable stand-alone structure, to  the the funds needed to complete our shared vision by building an exciting Museum within it.

Join people from all over America, and even the World, in this great effort to preserve an important piece of history.
Just as the Willow Run workers helped win World War II… together, we can do it!
Do your part. Click on the big, red “Donate” button, and give generously…. and please tweet, post and share to spread the word!

We thank you, our donors and friends, for all you have done to bring us to this point. The outpouring of community and nationwide support has been awesome and inspiring.

Thank you!
The Michigan Aerospace Foundation
The Yankee Air Museum
Campaign Co-chairmen Astronaut Jack Lousma and former GM Executive Bob Lutz