The Story of the Yankee Air Museum begins in 1941 when Willow Run Airport was built by the Ford Motor Company to serve as an airfield for their B-24 Bomber Plant. This was the first aircraft manufacturing complex to use Ford’s automotive mass production technique, a leading technological innovation of the time. Ford Motor Company built 8,685 B-24 Liberators from 1942 until the end of World War II. At its peak, the Willow Run facility employed over 42,000 people and produced one B-24 every 59 minutes. When the war was over, the airport became the hub for passenger flights and air freight in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
Since 1981, the Yankee Air Museum has acquired and returned to flying status three World War II aircraft. The first plane was acquired in 1982, a Douglas C-47D Skytrain. The “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is a two engine transport which was built in 1945. Rides on the C-47 are scheduled for the summer months and are available for purchase by Yankee Air Museum members only. The B-17G Flying Fortress, a four engine heavy bomber which was used in the movies “Tora!Tora!Tora!” and “Closing The Ring”, was purchased in 1986. The “Yankee Lady” underwent extensive restoration and was returned to flying status in 1995. The B-25D Mitchell, a two engine medium bomber similar to the type used in Jimmy Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo, was acquired in 1987. The “Yankee Warrior” saw combat in World War II and is one of only two B-25Ds still flying today. The “Yankee Lady” and “Yankee Warrior” are flown and displayed at numerous air shows from May through September and rides on them are available for purchase by the public. They are the pride of the Yankee Air Museum and its greatest ambassadors!
Today the Yankee Air Museum, its aircraft, events and educational programs are available for the public to experience and enjoy. The flyable aircraft are available for rides so people can re-live an important part of American and Michigan history. Public relations, membership and volunteer programs actively reach out into the community to create awareness of the Museum and invite interested people to become involved. The THUNDER OVER MICHIGAN™ Air Show at Willow Run Airport is one of the premier annual aviation events in the country. A new Vietnam War exhibit features a restored F-4 Phantom and UH-1 “Huey” helicopter. The Yankee Air Museum continues in its mission of “Honoring aviation history and its participants through a living, flying museum.” Come visit the Yankee Air Museum and join the excitement!