Willow Run Airport was built by the Ford Motor Company in 1941 to serve as an airfield for their B-24 Bomber Plant. This was the first aircraft manufacturing plant to use Ford's automotive mass production techniques, a leading technological innovation of the time. The last bomber to roll off the assembly line was named the "Henry Ford." When the war was over the airport became the hub for passenger flights and air freight in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
In 1981, a group of enthusiastic people, adopting the name Yankee Air Force, shared the desire to preserve the facts and glamour of southeastern Michigan's aviation history. They began to lay plans to research, restore, and preserve the all but forgotten history of Willow Run Airport. Their initial goal was to acquire one of the original U.S. Army Air Forces hangars and restore it to its original condition. With the help of Wayne County, the owners of the airport, this first goal was accomplished and the Yankee Air Museum was born. The YAM now has two divisions, the Wurtsmith Division in Michigan and the Northeast Division in New Jersey.