About the Campaign

JULY, 2014:

Great progress, and your support is still needed…

The Yankee Air Museum has signed a purchase agreement to buy 144,000 square feet of the former B-24 Liberator Bomber Plant at Willow Run from the RACER Trust. That’s good news, but there are still a few more hurdles to clear…

We are now in a pre-closing inspection period. During inspection, we are trying to identify and address any issues that could complicate making a new home for the Yankee Air Museum in the Bomber Plant. Inspection is a standard part of all real estate deals.   

Assuming no problems are found during inspection that we cannot resolve, we expect to close on our purchase In late Summer 2014. At that time, we hope to be able to announce the complete success of the first phase of the campaign to Save The Bomber Plant, and hold an event to thank our many supporters.

More than $7.5 million in cash and non-cash resources have been mobilized for this project, with overwhelming support from the media, and citizens nationwide and overseas. Fundraising, however, continues in order to:  1) Fully ensure that we can convert our part of the Bomber Plant into a fully-independent, fully-functional building, and 2) Have a start on the funds needed to build the interior facilities and exhibits of the exciting new museum that we have planned.

save-bomber-plant-beautiful-certificate-4It’s definitely not too late to “Do Your Part” by DONATING, and receive a beautiful Preservation Certificate, that you can dedicate to your own personal WWII hero or heroine… proof that YOU helped Save the Willow Run Bomber Plant!

The Campaign’s Mission

The purpose of the Save The Willow Run Bomber Plant Campaign is to mobilize the resources needed to “separate” (which means to acquire, enclose, secure and power up) roughly 175,000 square feet of the 5 million square foot former Willow Run Bomber Plant, to eventually become the new home of the Yankee Air Museum.

The Yankee Air Museum, based on the eastern edge of Willow Run Airport since 1981, houses aviation- and history-related exhibits and programs, and preserves and maintains a small fleet of WWII-era flyable aircraft, including the majestic Yankee Lady B-17. Yankee has a collection of static aircraft on display, and hosts the popular Thunder Over Michigan Air Show every August.

Although this area of Willow Run that we are trying to preserve is large enough to house the Yankee Air Museum, with its exhibits, collections, and aircraft, it is less than 5% of the colossal, 5 million sq.ft. Willow Run Plant, with its one-mile-long assembly line, which was the largest factory under one roof when it was built, and still among the largest factories in the word today.

The purchase cost of the building is generously low, but the cost involved in making “our” part of the building viable, by closing it off and recreating utilities once the rest of the building is gone, is unavoidably high. Yankee must demonstrate that it can raise the funds to make this dream a reality before we can be granted permission to purchase this portion of the plant.

Campaign History

At the start of this effort, “separation costs” for the portion of the building Yankee Air Museum wants to save were estimated at $8 million, and $3 million in project savings and past giving was already available to help meet those costs. As the campaign kicked off in mid-May, 2013, and this website went online, that left us with a need to raise $5 million in additional funding before August October November May 1, 2014. With great fundraising progress and popular support demonstrated as the campaign progressed, the original August 1 deadline was extended several times, finally landing on a May 1, 2014 deadline, which was necessarily final, since demolition of the plant commenced in September, 2013, and was scheduled to proceed throughout the winter and spring. The building’s owners [RACER Trust,] in conjunction with contractors, configured the demolition work to spare “our” portion of the plant until the last moment, to allow us as much time as possible to raise funds. The campaign to Save The Willow Run Bomber Plant has received incredible media coverage and nationwide support, and has inspired people of all ages, from all walks of life, to “help save Rosie’s factory.”

Willow Run: a Storied Past, and a Bright Future

In September, 2013, Willow Run’s owners announced that most of Willow Run has been sold to a buyer who will redevelop the property as a testing facility for futuristic connected vehicles (cars that talk to each other via computer, in order to pretty much drive themselves.) The portion of the Plant that Yankee Air Museum wants to save was held back from the sale, in order to give us more time to raise the funds necessary. Everyone involved in the future of the property supports our effort, and is giving us every chance to succeed.

A research and testing center for the next generation of smart vehicles, alongside a museum honoring the site’s historic industrial past, would create an exciting and fitting new chapter for Willow Run. This would not only honor, but continue Willow Run’s legacy of breakthrough manufacturing innovation, with the past and the future of manufacturing technology showcased side-by-side, to revitalize and inspire the present.

Is our goal impossible? Not at all! Support for the cause has been overwhelmingly positive, and donations stream in daily. So help save as many square feet of this historic treasure as you can, and be a part of what is becoming a nationwide effort to Save Rosie’s Plant!

Eight million dollars is a big number… 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!

How Does My Gift Help?

Every $50 preserves 1 square foot of the Bomber Plant, so…

  • $50 preserves 1 sq. ft.
  • $100 preserves 2 sq. ft.
  • $250 preserves 5 sq. ft.
  • $500 preserves 10 sq. ft.
  • $1,000 preserves 20 sq. ft.
  • $2,500 preserves 50 sq. ft.
  • $5,000 preserves 100 sq. ft.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Campaign

What happens if we don’t raise enough money by May?

In the event that we are unable to raise sufficient funds to preserve a portion of the Bomber Plant to become the new home of the entire Yankee Air Museum, all gifts to this campaign will be allocated to the construction of a hangar for the flyable historic aircraft at the Museum’s current home on the east side of the airfield.

If that happens, an important piece of our history may be lost but a much stronger, more exciting, more educational Yankee Air Museum will still be created. We hope that donors to this effort are comfortable with that as our “fallback’ strategy and so will make gifts at this time irrespective of the final site of the Yankee Air Museum.

What if I only want to give if the Museum will be moving to the Bomber Plant?

If you are interested in supporting the creation of the new museum only if it will be in the former Willow Run Bomber Plant, it would be more appropriate for you to make a pledge to this effort rather than an outright gift at this time.

Yours would be a “contingent pledge,” the payment of which would depend on the Museum committing to go to the Bomber Plant as its new home. If that did not happen, you would be under no obligation pay off your pledge. If you are interested in pledging rather than giving, please contact the SaveTheBomberPlant.org team for information on pledging using the online contact form (this is really the quickest way to get hold of us) or telephone (734) 483 – 4030, extension 222.

Who’s Behind The Campaign?

The Campaign has been organized by the Michigan Aerospace Foundation, the facilities fundraising sister organization to the Yankee Air Museum, to raise the funds needed to accomplish this. The Campaign itself is led by volunteers, but it is the Foundation’s leadership that provides day-to-day management of this Campaign.

What happens after the SaveTheBomberPlant.org campaign?

To paraphrase Churchill, a successful SaveTheBomberPlant.org campaign would be the end of our beginning.

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” — Winston Churchill, 1942

If we meet our immediate fundraising goal, we will have preserved a portion of the Bomber Plant to someday become the new home of the Yankee Air Museum. What that boils down to this – we will own a big historic box inside of which to create the new museum.

At that point, we would still need to raise a great deal of money before we have a fully-functional Museum inside the former Bomber Plant. To turn this 70-rear old former factory into a museum, a significant amount of both interior and exterior construction, as well as the design and construction of additional exhibits, will be required.

But, 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!

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