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Yankee Air Museum gets new home, name, and mission

Tracy Samilton/Michigan Radio

The former Yankee Air Museum is getting a new name, to go with its new home in part of the historic bomber plant at Willow Run.

The name, "The National Museum of Aviation and Technology at Historic Willow Run," will likely be reduced to a nickname in common parlance over time, says consultant Mike Montgomery.

He says a lot of effort went into salvaging a part of the Willow Run plant before the rest was demolished.

"So I think the nickname of the museum will gradually come to be the Aviation Museum at Willow Run, or the Willow Run Museum or the Willow Run Air Museum," says Montgomery, "or just, Willow Run."

Montgomery says founders wanted the new name to reflect its ambitious expanded mission, which will include teaching aviation science and technology to schoolkids.

But Montgomery says there's a lot of work remaining to get to that point, including more fundraising.

"What we've been able to do is raise enough money to buy, brace, re-enclose, and power up the building," says Montgomery. "But remember, right now, we've got a roof, a floor and two-and-a-half walls. So there's a lot of work to be done just to stabilize the building, and all we're going to have is a big empty historic box."

Once the museum is up and running, it will have a slew of new exhibits, says Montgomery,  including one showing the history of unmanned aircraft, from the balloons used during the Civil War to today's drones.

Another exhibit will explain how much of the alternative energy technology we use today has its origins in aviation science, including wind turbines, solar energy, and fuel cells.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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