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Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run, Ypsilanti, Michigan

B-17 prepares for flight at Yankee Air Museum Yipsilanti, Michigan
Thomas Wilmer

Join Correspondent, Tom Wilmer at Willow Run for a conversation with Kevin Walsh, Executive Director of the Yankee Air Museum in Yipsilanti, Michigan.

In the depths of WWII, Ford Motor Corporation opened the Willow Run Bomber plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1942 on the outskirts of Detroit. 

Under the direction of Edsel Ford, Willow Run produced B-24 aircraft in a 5 million square-foot facility—one mile long, by a quarter mile wide—the largest factory in the world.

At the height of production, more than 42,000 workers, including legendary cadres of Rosie the Riveters, rolled out a B-24 every 59 minutes, producing a total of more than 8,600 aircraft before the conclusion of the war.

The Willow Run plant is revered as a critical factor in the effort to win the war. In 1981, a group of military aviation enthusiasts formed the Yankee Air Museum at the Willow Run property to pay homage the Greatest Generation.

Today the Yankee Air Museum Collections and Exhibits building contains 47,000 square-feet of permanent exhibits, in addition to flyable WWII aircraft, including a B-25, C-47, and the B-17 “Yankee Lady” housed in one of the vintage Willow Run maintenance structures, mammoth Hanger One. 

* This podcast, the recipient of the prestigious 2016 Lowell Thomas Award, is a reprise post, originally broadcast as an NPR podcast June 2015

B-17 at Yankee Air Museum
Credit Thomas Wilmer
B-17 at Yankee Air Museum
Yankee Air Museum B-17 flying over Ann Arbor, Michigan
Credit Thomas Wilmer
Yankee Air Museum B-17 flying over Ann Arbor, Michigan--waist gunner position 50cal machine gun
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Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer Lowell Thomas Award 2016 for Ann Arbor series
Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer Lowell Thomas Award 2016 for Ann Arbor NPR podcast series

Tom Wilmer produces on-air content for Issues & Ideas airing over KCBX and is producer and host of the six-time Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Recorded live on-location across America and around the world, the podcasts feature the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts--everything from baseball to exploring South Pacific atolls to interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic.
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