Yankee Air Museum/Willow Run Bomber Plant Welcomes New Neighbors: The American Center for Mobility

With great pleasure, we extend a big welcome to our new neighbors at the Bomber Plant Property! Ground has been broken for a new connected vehicle testing center right next door to us at Willow Run.

A connected, automated vehicle at the future American Center for Mobility testing center at Willow Run

On Monday, November 21st, 2016, hundreds of VIPs, government officials and other invited guests gathered to witness the official groundbreaking for The American Center for Mobility (ACM), a revolutionary research center for connected and automated vehicles.

The ACM will be a uniquely purpose-built facility focused on testing, verification and self-certification of these types of vehicles, and other forms of mobility. The ACM has acquired 335 acres of the historic Willow Run Bomber Plant site in Ypsilanti Township.

The massive site comes with a number of desirable features and structures already in place including double overpasses, a railroad crossing and a highway loop to test cars at sustained highway speeds. Testing can occur during all four seasons, day and night, in sun, rain, ice and snow. These elements create the perfect environment for testing and the setting of national standards for mobility technologies before vehicles and other products are deployed.

These desirable infrastructure features that are so ideal for the testing of connected, automated (driverless) vehicles were first constructed during Word War II, as part of Ford’s massive Willow Run manufacturing complex. Willow Run was purpose-built in 1941 to produce B-24 Liberator bombers on an assembly line to meet war production goals. At 3.5 million sq. ft., it was the largest factory under one roof in the world, and included an adjacent airport, rail access, the first triple overpasses built in the US, and a dedicated freeway connecting Willow Run to Detroit (now part of I-94, and one of the very first sections of our nation’s Interstate Expressway system ever built.) Willow Run was famous for its “mile-long assembly line” (actually 2 half-mile lines side by side,) for being the workplace of Rose Will Monroe, the “original” Rosie the Riveter, and for producing a bomber-an-hour to help Allied forces win the war.

Although the majority of the Willow Run Bomber Plant has been demolished, in 2014 the “Save The Willow Run Bomber Plant Campaign” succeeded in saving a 144,000 sq. ft. portion of the historic building to become the future new home of the Yankee Air Museum. The Yankee Air Museum has been in operation since 1981 and is located at 47884 D Street on the East side of Willow Run Airport. However, the Museum with its fabulous collection of vintage aircraft is rapidly outgrowing its current home and looks forward to being able to move into the much larger space the Bomber Plant will provide. When restoration is finished, the Museum, in the saved portion of the Bomber Plant, will exist alongside the ACM testing center.

Restoration of our saved portion of the Bomber Plant is currently underway… and your donations are critically needed to fund our vision of turning it into a Museum! You can be a part of the effort to turn Rosie the Riveter’s World War II factory into a Museum by clicking here.

The Yankee Air Museum is excited and proud to have the ACM as our future neighbor on the historic Willow Run Bomber Plant site and we look forward to the many opportunities our partnership with them will yield.