Yankee Air Museum

Stateside
4:26 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Efforts to save the histotric Willow Run bomber plant continue

The Wilow Run Factory was built in 5 months, and at the height of production during WWII, it was producing one B-24 bomber every hour.
U.S. Army Signal Corps

The Yankee Air Museum has been given more time as it tries to save part of an historic factory.

The former Willow Run Bomber plant in Ypsilanti is where Rosie the Riveter built B-24s during World War Two.

Dennis Norton is Chairman of the Yankee Air Museum, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Economy
10:47 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Museum faces final deadline to save part of Rosie's factory

Image of the fire that destroyed Yankee Air Museum
Yankee Air Museum

Historians say Henry Ford reluctantly became part of the American war effort during World War II.

But once he acquiesced, his huge bomber plant in Ypsilanti made a big difference in the ability of American pilots to fight the air war.

By 1945, the Ford signature efficiency and moving assembly line was turning out a bomber every hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Culture
11:58 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Part of Willow Run bomber plant will be open to the public Saturday

The Wilow Run Factory was built in 5 months, and at the height of production during WWII, it was producing one B-24 bomber every hour.
U.S. Army Signal Corps

A group organized by the Yankee Air Museum has been trying to save part of the historic bomber plant from demolition.

The group says it has raised $5.25 million and needs to $2.75 million more by November 1 to meet the goal.

As part of their "Save the Bomber Plant" campaign, Nathan Bomey of the Detroit Free Press reports that part of the bomber plant will be open to the public this Saturday.

It's a chance for the  public to see the plant one last time before demolition begins.

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Auto
11:10 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Air museum hopes to save 'Rosie the Riveter's' factory

A real-life 'Rosie the Riveter' in 1943. She worked at Vultee-Nashville, Tennessee. The plane is an A-31 Vengeance dive bomber.
Alfred T. Palmer U.S. Government

The historic Michigan factory where the iconic Rosie the Riveter and thousands of other women built B-24 bombers during World War II could face the wrecking ball two months from now.

A modest nonprofit is trying to raise enough money to salvage some of the massive plant, which Ford sold to General Motors after the war. The Yankee Air Museum figures the factory is the perfect place to start anew, after a devastating fire destroyed its collections in 2004.

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Politics & Government
7:46 am
Thu August 1, 2013

In this morning's news: Medicaid expansion, the Willow Run Bomber Plant, and pet coke removal

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

State Senate committee approves Medicaid plans

A Michigan Senate committee has approved a plan to expand Medicaid.  The bill would allow thousands more Michigan residents to receive coverage.  Michigan Radio’s Jake Neher reports that the committee also approved two alternative bills that would not expand Medicaid. The proposed bills are expected to reach the Senate floor in late August.

Demolition of Willow Run Bomber Plan delayed

The Willow Run Bomber Plant has received an extension on its demolition deadline.  Michigan Radio’s Rina Miller reports that “the trust overseeing the property gave a non-profit group two extra months to raise 8 million dollars.” The Yankee Air Museum hopes to renovate and move into the space that helped inspire the “Rosie the Riveter” character.

Detroit Bulk Storage will halt pet coke shipments

Yesterday a hearing was held at Detroit City Hall about the storage of petroleum coke along the riverfront.  Detroit Bulk Storage has been piling the substance there for months without a permit. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that local residents and organizations voiced their opposition to storing the pet coke in the city.

Politics & Government
8:04 am
Wed July 31, 2013

In this morning's news: Buena Vista dissolved, preservation of Willow Run, Detroit streetcar line

Morning News Roundup for Wednesday, July 31, 2013
User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Buena Vista school district has been dissolved

The Saginaw Intermediate School District board voted to close the Buena Vista School District yesterday. The nearly 400 students will be split up it among the Saginaw, Bridgeport-Spaulding and Frankenmuth districts. According to MLive,  261 students attend the part of the Buena Vista district that the Saginaw schools are absorbing and 135 the Bridgeport-Spaulding schools' section; there are no students in the rural area that Frankenmuth is taking.

Willow Run could still be saved

The deadline to present funds for the preservation of a portion of the former Willow Run bomber plant was originally tomorrow, August 1. However, the trust set up to oversee properties owned by a pre-bankruptcy General Motors announced yesterday that it's extending the deadline until October 1, the Detroit Free Press reports. The Save the Bomber Plant campaign has raised $4.5 million toward the $8 million cost of preserving 175,000 square feet of the plant and turning it in to the new home of the Yankee Air Museum.

Detroit streetcar line has chosen construction manager

Developers of a $140 million streetcar line planned for a 3.3-mile course through the heart of Detroit have selected Stacy and Witbeck Inc. to serve as construction manager and general contractor, according to the Detroit News. Groundbreaking on the project could take place in the fall. The streetcar line is scheduled to start running in late 2015. Officials have said they don't believe that Detroit's bankruptcy case will affect the privately managed streetcar line.

Auto
3:56 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

A close-up look at a Willow Run WWII bomber in flight

The "Yankee Lady" moments before it took off at the Willow Run Airport.
Alana Holland Michigan Radio

The old GM Willow Run assembly plant, the same plant where Rosie the Riveter once worked, is in danger of being demolished. That is, unless the Yankee Air Museum can raise $4.5 million dollars in the next 15 days, as Tracy Samilton reported.

We also interviewed Dennis Norton, founder of the Yankee Air Museum, and Ray Hunter, the current Chair of the Museum, about their efforts to save the plant on Stateside.

The museum hopes to use the old plant to house its collection of exhibits and historic planes.

One of these planes is the B-17G "Yankee Lady," a bomber developed for the United States Air Force during World War II. The Yankee Lady is one of the few remaining models of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers that remain flyable today.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton and Alana Holland got to experience first hand this historic plane in action. View the slideshow above for a look at the Yankee Lady in flight.

Auto
11:36 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Air Museum hopes to save part of historic plant where Rosie the Riveter worked

The Yankee Lady is a WWII-era B-17G bomber.
Alana Holland Michigan Radio

With the touch of a button, a massive two-story-tall bay door opens slowly, as an insistent alarm sounds, to reveal part of the former Willow Run bomber plant near Ypsilanti, Michigan. A heavy waft of must and dampness rushes out from the dark interior.

Once, scores of B-24 bombers exited these bay doors, on their way to aid the American war effort. 

"It works better than my garage door back home," says Grant Trigger with a grin, as the more than 60-year-old doors lift.

Trigger is the Michigan Cleanup Manager for RACER Trust, which handles the vacant GM Willow Run Assembly Plant, along with scores of other properties abandoned by the automaker as part of its bankruptcy reorganization in 2009. 

The factory began its life as a Ford Motor Company World War II factory, famous for being the place where Rosie the Riveter worked. GM later bought the plant and converted it to make automobiles.

But soon it will be demolished, unless a modest museum can raise more than $4.5 million in the next 15 days.

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Politics & Culture
5:35 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Stateside for Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Democrats in the state House have introduced a range of measures addressing women's health in Michigan. We talked to a state Representative about why she thinks it is time government gets involved in female health.

And, a fight over American Indian-themed school mascots could result in a $3 million budget cut for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

And, the Community Chorus of Detroit has been working hard on its mission to build and strengthen ties is Southeastern Michigan through song.

Also, the former bomber plant in Willow Run could become the new home of the Yankee Air Museum.

And, as prom-season is upon us, Michigan singer/songwriter Allison Downey of The Living Room brought us her memory of the big dance, a prom night that didn't quite go to plan.

First on today’s show, a subject that most of us would just as soon not spend much time thinking about but it is crucial to our health and well-being: septic fields.

Writer Jeff Alexander took a closer look at failed septic fields and the ways they're polluting our precious water, and his reporting is in the current issue of Bridge Magazine.

Jeff joined us from Grand Haven to discuss the issue.

Stateside
3:09 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Willow Run Bomber Plant could be a new home for the Yankee Air Museum

The Wilow Run Factory was built in five months, and at the height of production during WWII, it was producing one B-24 bomber every hour.
U.S. Army Signal Corps

An interview with Dennis Norton and Ray Hunter from the Yankee Air Museum.

When you think about what it took for the United States and our Allies to win World War II, it wasn't just up to the troops fighting in Europe and the Pacific, the war was waged on the home front as well.

And a big chunk of real estate in Ypsilanti was one of the most important spots in the nation for that war effort: the Willow Run Bomber Plant.

It was built by the Ford Motor Company to turn out B-24 Liberator bombers.

At the peak of its war effort, Willow Run turned out one Liberator bomber every 59 minutes. And 42,000 workers kept those bombers coming, earning the plant its nickname of "The Arsenal of Democracy."

Willow Run was also where Rose Will Monroe hired on to work as a riveter. She appeared in a film aimed at getting women out of the home and into the plants to help the war effort, and that led to the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” image and hit song.

These days, the future of Willow Run is cloudy.

It had been a GM plant, but Willow Run was discarded by GM during its bankruptcy woes in 2009.

Now, the Yankee Air Museum is hoping to buy a good-sized piece of the historic plant for a new home, thus saving the plant from the wrecker's ball and helping grow the museum.

Dennis Norton, founder of the Yankee Air Museum, and Ray Hunter, the current Chair of the Museum as well as a pilot and former Air Force colonel, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Culture
12:53 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Yankee Air Museum wants home at ex-bomber plant

B-24 bombers being assembled at the Willow Run plant. Ford Motor Company built 8,685 B-24s from 1942 until the end of World War II.
wikimedia commons

VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The Yankee Air Museum is kicking off a $6 million campaign to make its home at a former facility that built B-24 bombers during World War II.

Museum officials announced this week an effort to purchase and renovate part of the former Willow Run powertrain plant. The museum is housed at Willow Run Airport, near Ypsilanti in Wayne County's Van Buren Township.

Its original headquarters was destroyed by fire in 2004.

Dennis Norton, the founder and president of the Yankee Air Museum, has presented plans to Ypsilanti Township officials. The museum says it has until Aug. 1 to secure funding, and would buy the site from the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust.

Ford Motor Co. built the plant for B-24 production. It later was taken over by General Motors.