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Michigan Aerospace Foundation, Yankee Air Museum and RACER Trust Announce Extension of the Fundraising Deadline for Former B-24 Plant at Willow Run

YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, MI – The Michigan Aerospace Foundation, Yankee Air Museum and RACER Trust are pleased to announce a 60-day extension of the deadline for the fundraising effort to preserve a portion of the former Willow Run Bomber Plant. The new fundraising deadline is October 1, 2013.

The “Save the Bomber Plant” campaign has so-far mobilized more than $4.5 million toward the estimated $8 million cost of separating and preserving approximately 175,000 square feet of the bomber plant and turning it in to the new home of the Yankee Air Museum.
 

Statement from Elliott P. Laws, Administrative Trustee of the RACER Trust, on Extension of Yankee Air Museum Fundraising Deadline


Dennis Norton, the founder of Yankee Air Museum and president of the Michigan Aerospace Foundation, said, “The RACER Trust has been extremely supportive of Yankee Air Museum and this initiative. We’re grateful to be able to continue working toward our goal of preserving a portion of the former-bomber plant to tell the Arsenal of Democracy story and how Americans, men and women, of all races, came together to not just build aircraft needed to win World War II, but to change the country forever. We’ve had a great response to our campaign. So many people have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and generosity, and with a bit more time, I believe we will hit our target.”

The Willow Run Bomber Plant built nearly 9,000 B-24 Liberator Bombers during the war, finishing a plane every 54 minutes. At the time of its construction, the plant was the largest factory in the world, employing more than 40,000 men and women, including riveter Rose Will Monroe, more famously remembered as “Rosie the Riveter.”

Elliott P. Laws, administrative trustee of the RACER Trust, said the success and momentum of the campaign is cause for optimism and warranted an extension. “The staff and supporters of the Yankee Air Museum have done a tremendous job with their campaign to raise the funds necessary to purchase, separate and renovate a portion of the former Willow Run Powertrain plant,” Mr. Laws said. “RACER has been supportive of the Yankee Air Museum effort and wanted to present every possible opportunity for the campaign to reach a successful conclusion. We evaluated Yankee Air Museum’s request for a two-month extension of its fundraising deadline and we’re pleased to accommodate the request. We wish Yankee Air Museum success in its campaign.”

If the “Save the Bomber Plant” campaign is successful, the Yankee Air Museum will move from its current location on the east side of Willow Run Airport to the former bomber plant, which is adjacent to the airport’s western boundary. All of the museum’s collections and exhibits, including aircraft, would be then be reunited at a single site.

“Detroit’s mass production was pivotal to our victory in World War II, and no place was more vital in that respect than Willow Run,” said Ray Hunter, Chairman of the Board of the Yankee Air Museum. “It’s incredible to see and hear from so many people who recognize the opportunity to honor and preserve a physical connection to that era. We truly appreciate RACER Trust and everyone else’s support for our mission.”

The area to be preserved was the end of the World War II-era assembly line where aircraft were completed and exited the plant for delivery to the government.  The RACER Trust took ownership of the property in 2011 and has been seeking a buyer who will invest in new, jobs-producing redevelopment of the site.

For more information about the “Save the Bomber Plant” campaign, visit www.savethebomberplant.org.

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About Yankee Air Museum: Yankee Air Museum was founded in 1981 to preserve and honor Southeastern Michigan’s aviation history. Since then, it has acquired and returned to flying status five World War II aircraft, including the "Yankee Lady" a B-17G that was used in the movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and is the museum’s flagship. These aircraft are flown and displayed at numerous air shows from May through September including the “Thunder Over Michigan” air show at Willow Run Aug. 10-11, 2013. Yankee Air Museum, located at Willow Run Airport, is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, please visit www.yankeeairmuseum.org.

About the RACER Trust: The RACER (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) Trust was created to clean up and position for redevelopment properties and other facilities owned by the former General Motors Corp. before its 2009 bankruptcy. RACER is one of the largest holders of industrial property in the United States and is the largest environmental response and remediation trust in U.S. history. When the Trust was formed, it owned properties at 89 locations in 14 states, principally in the Midwest and Northeast. The Trust, which is independent, was created by a settlement agreement in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court between the U.S. Government, the 14 states where the former GM properties are located, and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, which owns land adjoining Trust property in Massena, NY. For more information, please visit www.racertrust.org.

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