YPSILANTI (WWJ) – The demolition of the historic Willow Run Bomber Plant near Ypsilanti has begun, but the effort to save a piece of it is still alive.
The Yankee Air Museum wants to move their museum into the plant — which Ford built in 1941 to build B-24 bombers for World War Two. The plant was famous for employing thousands of women — dubbed “Rosy the Riveter” — while many of the men were fighting overseas.
Dennis Norton, president of the Michigan Aerospace Foundation, told WWJ’s Tom Jordan it’s vital to preserve the plant’s history.
“If it hadn’t been for the production we did here in Detroit, with the auto companies, we would probably not have defeated Germany. We were able to produce more airplanes than the Germans, the Nazis, could shoot down and that’s a piece of history that we just need to keep alive,” Norton said.
Although most of the Willow Run Bomber Plant is slated for demolition, as part of the 2009 GM bankruptcy restructuring, fundraisers have been granted a deadline extension of May 1 to raise the remaining $2 million of the $8 million total to preserve a small part of the plant as a new home for the Yankee Air Museum.
“What we’re trying to preserve is both bays, the two big hangar doors where the bombers came out onto the airfield and about 250 feet of space behind each of those doors,” said Mike Montgomery, Fundraising Consultant for Michigan Aerospace Foundation.