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Posted on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

Yankee Air Museum still short on funds days before deadline to save part of bomber plant

By Tom Perkins

Just days before its deadline, the Yankee Air Museum remains between $3.5 million and $4 million short of its $6 million fundraising goal that would go to save a portion of the historic Willow Run bomber plant.

The entire GM Powertrain facility is slated for demolition beginning in September, but the museum has been working to raise enough to save a section before the Aug. 1 deadline.

There has been some discussion between the museum and plant-owners RACER Trust about extending the deadline.


Fliers, lawn signs, and billboards have been just part of the museums campaign to save the Willow Run bomber plant.

Taken by Ford Motor Company and property of Yankee Air Museum

Yankee Air Museum founder Dennis Norton declined to comment on the possibility aside from saying that talks with RACER “have been positive”. He said the museum is continuing discussions with potential donors and is aiming to meet the Thursday deadline.

“I’m still hopeful,” he said.

Bill Callen, a communications representative for RACER, said there hasn’t been a final decision but the Aug. 1 deadline still stands as of now.

Should the museum fail to reach its $6 million goal, the entire bomber plant will be razed with the rest of the 4.6 million-square-foot Powertrain facility.

The museum is highlights the historical significance of the building. The Willow Run plant rolled out more than 8,700 B-24 "Liberator" bombers in World War II that were instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany.

It was where “Rosie The Riveter” was employed, and, at its peak, the entire plant employed more than 40,000 people.

The museum’s goal is to save is 160,000 to 180,000 square feet of the original 3.5 million-square-foot bomber plant. That portion contains the two massive hangar doors where the new bomber planes rolled off the line and on to the tarmac.

The Yankee Air Museum has established a website and an aggressive campaign in the approximately three months it was given to raise the $6 million, including fliers, lawn signs and billboards drawn up with an image of "Rosie the Riveter" and the text “Save the bomber plant.”

Norton said fundraisers also continue to talk to large donors who will be key to saving the plant.



Wed, Jul 31, 2013 : noon

Both my grandparents on my father's side worked in that plant during the war.


Wed, Jul 31, 2013 : 1:22 a.m.

I just heard the deadline will be extended. There is a total amount and I am not sure about what it is at this point. The YAM is going to make an announcement on this on Wednesday.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

Despite being behind in fundraising the museum volunteers seem to have done a decent job getting the word out. While driving back from a Tigers game last week I noticed a billboard on I-96 in Detroit promoting the fundraising efforts and have seen numerous posters and postcards floating around the entire metro-Detroit and Ann Arbor area. Best of luck to them as they near the deadline.

Honest Abe

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

If the goal is not met, what happens with the funds that have already been raised?

Jeannette Gutierrez

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

I just went online to the big red donation button at and a bought a square foot of the plant... it worked fine for me!


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

Could the deadline be pushed back until after the Thunder Over Michigan? The donation limit might actually be met during the airshow.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

Sadly, this project looks like it will fail. I can only say that the effort was worthwhile but not very well thought out. I think that the value and benefits of having such a museum were not well communicated to the public. Also, I think timing may be a factor: we're seeing the entire city of Detroit fading before our very eyes.

Top Cat

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

If it does fail, it needs to be put in a certain perspective. The Yankee Air Museum continues to fly three vintage WW2 planes, selling rides and attending air shows. Yankee has a new Museum and Education Center that are open throughout the year. There is also the upcoming Thunder Over Michigan Air Show. Not bad for a place that burned to the ground in 2004.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2 p.m.

The web site does in fact work...try it again.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

I felt like contributing to the bomber plant museum cause. I went to the web site and tried to donate, but the web site did not work for donations. So I looked up the phone number 734-483-4030 ext 222. When I called I just got a message to give them my phone number and they would call me. Maybe you would have a lot more sucess if you would make it easier to donate at our convience, not at your convience.

Thinking over here

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

I had no problem donating via the website.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

"The Willow Run plant rolled out more than 8,700 B-24 "Liberator" bombers in World War II that were instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany." You know they used B-24s in the Pacific theatre, too. Which means they were also instrumental in defeating Japan. They also used B-24s in the Mediterranean theatre, which means that they were also instrumental in defeating Italy.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

Are there any types of federal or state grants or loans that could be used to save a portion of this facility? This obviously is a historically significant location and it would be sad to see it destroyed because they can't afford to keep it. I know other organizations have used grants to preserve other types of equipment. Is there anything that could be used for preserving this piece of history?


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

The web site to donate is Every dollar helps and will preserve at least a part of where people who are known as the "Greatest Generation" worked their butts off to help win World War II. Everyone sacrificed during WW II, nowadays wars are fought on a credit card and only the brave young men and women are doing the sacrificing. The rest of us are going to be known as the "Fattest Generation."