From aviation to automation: the renaissance of Willow Run

Mar 28, 2016

On March 28, 1941, a small army of construction workers began clearing a five-square mile patch of land near Ypsilanti. The Willow Run bomber plant was the largest aircraft manufacturing facility ever built. Now, 75 years later, Willow Run’s proud legacy of innovation continues.


Seventy-five years ago today, heavy equipment crews started clearing a huge swath of land near Ypsilanti. With a deadly air war raging in Europe, the U.S. began work on a massive bomber plant that came to be known as Willow Run. It was the largest aircraft manufacturing facility ever built. Willow Run churned out one B-24 bomber every hour. At its peak, it employed 42,000 people, one-third of them women.

Now, Willow Run is being re-purposed for a new mission. Last week, the state awarded some seed money to the American Center for Mobility, which will test driverless cars at Willow Run.

Current State’s Kevin Lavery reports.