Fund Drive Starts to Rebuild Willow Run Air Museum

VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- Officials of the fire-ravaged Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport are launching a campaign next week to raise the estimated $7.6 million needed to rebuild.

Since the Oct. 9 fire destroyed the museum's hangar, small donations have come in from scores of individuals. The drive will seek larger amounts from corporations and wealthy donors.

''We know who we have to go after,'' said Dennis Norton, president of the Michigan Aerospace Foundation, which was formed to raise money for the museum.

So far, about $250,000 has been donated toward the $500,000 startup costs for architects to design a campus of up to 10 buildings to be built near where the old hangar stood. Officials from the museum and Willow Run Airport plan to meet Wednesday to complete a master plan.

Officials say they hope to start building taxiways and ramps for a large new replacement hangar by the summer of 2006, according to The Detroit News.

Sean Brosnan, manager of Willow Run Airport in Wayne County's Van Buren Township, west of Detroit, said the museum remains a big part of the airport's growth plans.

''We don't have everything worked out yet, but they are a cornerstone of Willow Run,'' he said.

The hangar at Willow Run Airport was built by Henry Ford to produce World War II bombers on assembly lines like those used at his auto plants.

Fire hazards and structural problems had been known for more than three years, and the museum announced in July that it was raising money to deal with the risks.