For the first time in more than 50 years, three vintage military aircraft were moved back inside the historic Willow Run Bomber Plant. as the Yankee Air Museum officially kicked-off the second phase of its national fundraising efforts.
In 2014, the “Save the Bomber Plant” campaign saved a portion of the plant. Now, the museum is asking for the public’s support to turn the Willow Run Bomber Plant in to a national aviation attraction. The Willow Run Bomber Plant is a piece of history in its own right. The facility manufactured more than 8,000 B-24 Liberator bombers during World War II, and was the workplace of the woman associated with the iconic Rosie the Riveter character. Read a great article about the move on the verge.com here, and view the video of planes returning to Willow Run Bomber Plant below (warning – prepare for goosebumps or even a lump in your throat!)
On Wednesday, February 17, 2016, the Yankee Air Museum moved three aircraft into the Bomber Plant for cold-weather storage. These are the first aircraft through the twin bay doors, out of which rolled 8,685 B-24 bombers during WWII, since 1952 when Kaiser Fraser was building C-119 Flying Boxcars. Since the Bomber Plant is still in the construction and restoration phase, the aiirplanes are there only for temporary storage. They will be moved out for the summer construction season, but this allows the Museum a great opportunity to get them in out of the elements for the winter.
This is the culmination of the first 14 months of restoration, including fully enclosing Yankee Air Museum’s 144,000 sq. ft. saved portion of the WWII-era Willow Run Bomber Plant (the west side and part of the north side of the Plant were exposed when the main portion of the plant was demolished, and new walls had to be built.) A year ago, we could not have done this. We’ve come a long way toward our goals in one short year! We have a long way to go, but this is direct evidence that our first year was very successful, and… with your help… we can continue to save, preserve, and renovate historic Willow Run.
The airplanes that made the move to their historic temporary winter home were the Yankee Air Museum’s PB4Y-2 Privateer (which is the Navy variant of the B-24 Liberator,) the RB-57 Canberra and the DHC-4 Caribou. Inside storage will halt the deterioration of these wonderful artifacts caused by the weather.
The next steps are to install heat and utilities in the building (the original utilities were ripped out when the rest of the plant was disassembled) and begin renovations and construction of the exhibits. As with any museum, fundraising… and your help… are key.