Yankee Air Museum In Belleville
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An Under the Radar Michigan Gem: Yankee Air Museum

If you love under-the-radar historical museums in Michigan, you need to check out the Yankee Air Museum. This little day trip with lunch will give you a nice little punch of adventure.

Whether you are looking to enhance or begin your understanding of aviation, WWII or both, this day trip is a perfect way for anyone to walk away informed and inspired. By way of artifacts, guides, photos, simulators, videos, music and more, it will be a day well worth your time.

In the little town of Belleville less than an hour outside of Detroit you will find the Yankee Air Museum (YAM). 

Yankee Air Museum In Belleville
Yankee Air Museum in Belleville | photo via Sara Grivas

The History of Willow Run

The YAM was built on the grounds of the Willow Run Airport in 1981. You can read more about Willow Run Airport’s history concerning WWII

Yankee Air Museum In Belleville
Willow Run | photo via Sara Grivas

I have enjoyed this museum many times whether it be alone, with other adults or with my grandchildren. Each time I learn something new. 

Yankee Air Museum In Belleville
The YAM volunteers were just wonderful with our grandkids | photo via Sara Grivas

What Can I Expect at Yankee Air Museum?

YAM has a gifted way of reaching each of their attendees’ interests and learning capabilities. Every attendee/group is greeted personally by one of YAM’s many volunteers.

You can walk through the museum on your own, or personally be led by their experts. I have done both and prefer a personal tour.

Each guide has their own unique tidbits of information and stories about the items on display. They are refreshingly flexible to gear your tour to your group’s interest level and attention span.

The charm of the Yankee Air Museum is its focus on local people and events. You will find many personal stories, including my very own, and artifacts at YAM, especially from our own community. 

Yankee Air Museum In Belleville
WWII Veteran, Donald Allen of Livonia, signs display bomb at Yankee Air Museum airshow | photo via Sara Grivas

A Real Community Connection at YAM

YAM does a fabulous job recognizing so many different local community heroes. It’s so refreshing to be in a place where locals are honored.

My own personal connection to the Yankee Air Museum is through my father who was a B-24 navigator/bombardier in WWII. That means during WWII, my father dropped the bombs and navigated the B-24 bomber airplane, the same plane built at Willow Run during the war. 

Wwii Veteran, Donald Allen Of Livonia, Signs Display Bomb At Yankee Air Museum Airshow.
The bomb on display signed by my father many years ago at one of Willow Run’s “Thunder Over Michigan” airshows | photo via Sara Grivas

After searching for many months for a bomb my father signed years ago at an unknown airshow, I was thrilled to find it in my own backyard at the YAM! He had attended one of their annual Thunder Over Michigan airshows and signed a display bomb used on the B-24 plane. Mine is only one of many examples of personal displays honoring our local heroes.  

There’s more to YAM than WWII. Yankee Air Museum continues to add new exhibits and tours to their facility. Currently, you can find the following, just to name a few: 

  • Willow Run/Rosie the Riveter
  • Vietnam War
  • WWI
  • WWII
  • Tuskegee
  • A hometown hero’s Thunderbird Story
Yankee Air Museum In Belleville
Yankee Air Museum in Belleville | photo via Sara Grivas

Yankee Air Museum’s Interactive Displays

One of our favorite parts of the museum was their many simulators and interactive displays. Both adults and kids found them to give a great insider’s perspective and depth to what it would be like to fly or train as an aviator. 

A variety of static aircraft both inside and outside of the museum is sprinkled with many interesting displays. YAM really packs a punch for a smaller facility. It’s quite impressive.

You will find an A-4 Skyhawk, the Bell AH-1J SeaCobra helicopter, a B-52D, fighter aircraft, fighter-bombers, F-100C Super Sabre, PS-2 Glider and more!

Yankee Air Museum In Belleville
Yankee Air Museum in Belleville | photo via Sara Grivas

YAM’s display cases include aviation equipment, artillery, uniforms, and personal use items put together so well and labeled clearly. Our guides were fantastic at engaging the kids and asking them questions about what they were seeing.

Yankee Air Museum In Belleville
President George H. W. Bush display | photo via Sara Grivas

What Else is Available at the Yankee Air Museum?

  • You can book an Air Adventure flight on one of five of YAM’s historic planes
  • YAM offers many events throughout the year including Air Shows, extended tours, fundraising dinners and experiences 
  • Volunteer opportunities for many different skill sets
  • Educational opportunities for young and old with camps, speaking engagements, tours and field trips

How Much Is Admission to the Yankee Air Musuem?

For regular admission, memberships and other discounts, check the Yankee Air Museum website.

But………….

You are able to get into the Yankee Air Museum for FREE using the Michigan Activity Pass

Parking is free. 

I found our experience at the YAM to be a win for all of us. It feels much less intimidating than the larger museums and everyone leaves with a deeper, more personal understanding of aviation, our state’s role in WWII and history.

The Bomber Restaurant Ypsilanti,
The Bomber Restaurant in Ypsilanti | photo via Sara Grivas

Now for Lunch!

The next stop to this day’s adventure is only a 12-minute drive from the Yankee Air Museum, the cozy Bomber Restaurant located at 306 E. Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti, MI.

The Bomber Restaurant is a WWll memorabilia-themed diner, serving some of the best breakfast & lunch in the townhome to ‘Rosie the Riveter.’

With their restaurant’s theme tied to the B-24 bomber plane made at Willow Run, it makes perfect sense to end your afternoon with a wonderful lunch or their famous “Bomber Breakfast.”

The Bomber Restaurant Ypsilanti,
 My granddaughter inspired by the Rosie the Riveter painting on the outside wall of the Bomber Restaurant | photo via Sara Grivas

The Bombers Restaurant ceilings and walls are packed with displays from local veterans. Model planes of all types from WWII hang throughout. You will see photos, articles, uniforms, medals, and more. Don’t be shy to get up and look around, it’s to be expected.

Be sure to plan your itinerary around their hours of operation. They are open Wed-Sun 8 AM-1:45 PM serving breakfast and lunch. Trust me, you will not be disappointed or hungry after your visit!

Enjoy Your Yankee Air Museum & Bomber Restaurant Day Trip

You will always find something different and exciting at YAM and the Bomber Restaurant. The Bomber Restaurant continually adds to their military displays and offers new specials.

With YAMS’s ongoing expansions, hands-on learning and interactive displays, rotation of artifacts, a team of personal tour guides and special events it is surely the perfect “go-to” location to revisit again and again.

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