June 25, 2013 - Yankee Air Museum, of Van Buren, Michigan, and the Michigan Aerospace Foundation are leading an effort to save and preserve a small, but important piece of the Willow Run B-24 bomber plant that's scheduled for demolition.
The plant was built during the early part of World War II by Ford Motor Company and churned out nearly 9,000 Liberators. Campaign organizers hope to not only raise enough funds to prevent this piece of the plant from demolition, but also move their museum into the plant to make the preservation permanent.
Dennis Norton, chairman of the Michigan Aerospace Foundation, founded the Yankee Air Museum in 1981 with the goal to "research and preserve the fascinating history of the Willow Run Airport, the Bomber Plant, and the arsenal of democracy."
"We have that same goal with the new project," Norton said. "This is a place where so many people came from across America to support the war. Without the Detroit auto industry switching to the production of aircraft, the outcome [of the war] could have been very different."
More than 40,000 workers from across the United States, many of whom were women and minorities not allowed to work in many other places at that time, moved to Willow Run to help the war effort. Rose Will Monroe, more famously known as the original "Rosie the Riveter," even worked at the plant for a time.
Norton also stressed that so many of the people who moved to support the war effort - an integral part of "the greatest generation" - stayed in the area, making this unique history that much more important to preserve.
"Every time I speak locally about the bomber plant I ask how many people had family members work at the plant and at least a quarter of the room raises their hands," Norton said.
The campaign aims to save one square foot of the bomber plant for every $50 raised. Any excess money raised by the campaign will go towards creating exhibits in the new museum. Donors may also sign a pledge that will only be cashed once the museum signs a purchase agreement with the plant.
For more information about the project, visit the "Save the Bomber Plant" website.
"We give so much thanks to everyone who donates, but we know some can't," Norton said. "All we ask is that you please spread the word as far as you can to help us save this very important piece of history."