The Yankee Air Museum’s exhibitions cover global conflicts from World War One to the present through displays that offer visitors an opportunity to experience those conflicts through the men and woman who lived it. Many items in the collection – including but not limited to uniforms, weaponry, aircraft, medals, letters, artwork, photographs, and other mementos – are currently on exhibit in the Museum. The majority of the collection are kept safely in storage for research and future exhibitions, or are being restored to their original condition. The Museum also has a large collection of oral histories conducted with veterans of all branches and the civilians who helped at the home front
The Story of the Yankee Air Museum
The Yankee Air Museum has been a great influence in the world of aviation throughout Southeast Michigan for decades. Founded in 1981, the Museum quickly grew when it acquired its flyable aircraft, B-17 Flying Fortress, B-25 Mitchell Bomber, and C-47 Skytrain, offering the public the chance to fly in some of America’s most iconic aircraft. The Museum was originally located on the very North-East side of the Willow Run Airport until it suffered a devastating fire in 2004. While most everything was destroyed, a few aircraft such as the B-17, C-47, B-25, and B-52, among others were moved to safety.
The Museum re-opened to the public in 2010 in a new location just yards away from the original. The Museum has 47,000 sq. ft. that houses its collection of permanent and rotating aviation and historic displays as well as over 5,000 artifacts. In 2010, a school house that was used during World War Two was donated and relocated next to the Museum and has become the Museum’s research library.
In 2011, negotiations began between RACER Trust, Michigan Aerospace Foundation, and Yankee Air Museum for acquiring part of the old Willow Run Bomber Plant that produced B-24 Bombers during World War Two for the Ford Motor Company. After nearly two years of negotiations, the Foundation’s offer was accepted to save a portion of the Bomber Plant. The Save the Bomber Plant campaign raised $8 million to acquire, enclose, and power the 144,000 square feet of the facility. This would create a new, permanent home for the Museum, its exhibits, educational programs as well as its flyable and static aircraft. Along with a new home, the Yankee Air Museum will gain a new name, The National Museum of Aviation and Technology at Historic Willow Run, when it opens to the public.
That was only the beginning. A new campaign has been launched to raise the funds to build the Museum and its exhibits within the Bomber Plant. The stories of “How Detroit Saved the World” and “Rosie the Riveter” will be told on the site where they happened some 70 years ago. The Yankee Air Museum’s growing aircraft collection and the research library, the David and Andrea Robertson Education Center, will also be moved inside.
The additional space will allow the Museum to integrate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) into its exhibits and programs to inspire young people to pursue education and career opportunities in those fields. The building will also hold the Museum’s growing collection of artifacts and documents in a state-of-the-art facility.
The Yankee Air Museum is rapidly growing and constantly producing new exhibits, educational activities, and exciting experiences for the public. Plan your visit today!