Thunder Over Michigan 2017 To Host North American Airshow Debut Of German A400M Atlas

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Airbus A400M Atlas
Photo courtesy of Airbus

Fans at Thunder Over Michigan will have a special opportunity to see Europe’s newest cargo aircraft this summer. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) will be bringing an Airbus A400M Atlas in for static display at the show. It will be the first North American airshow appearance for the aircraft, which has been in service since only 2014. The show has hosted a German C-160 Transall, which is being replaced by the A400M, in the past.

Thunder Over Michigan is an annual airshow organized to support the Yankee Air Museum. It is held at Willow Run airport near Detroit, MI, and typically boasts one of the strongest warbird lineups in the country. This year’s show will be held on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-4, and will feature the US Navy Blue Angels as the headline act. Warbirds and other performers are still in the works.

New Photo Album – Thunder Over Michigan 2016

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AH-1 Cobras - Thunder Over Michigan 2016

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: Thunder Over Michigan 2016 – Ryan Sundheimer

The 2016 Thunder Over Michigan Airshow, organized to support the Yankee Air Museum, featured the USAF F-22 Raptor, Breitling Jet Team, US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet, helicopters, vintage warbirds, and more.

F-100 Super Sabre Added To 2016 Thunder Over Michigan Lineup

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F-100 Super Sabre

The Thunder Over Michigan airshow, which will take place next weekend, has added the rare F-100 Super Sabre to the flying lineup. The jet, owned and flown by Dean “Cutter” Cutshall, is based out of Fort Wayne, IN and has been seen at several Midwest airshows in the last year, including Thunder Over Michigan and EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. It joins a lineup featuring far more jets than usual for TOM, including the USAF F-22 Raptor and US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet demonstration teams. The Breitling Jet Team will also perform. Aside from the jets, the theme of the show is “Helotown USA”, a celebration of various helicopters including a Russian Mi-24 “Hind” gunship.

Follow AirshowStuff on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and here on our blog for coverage of this year’s show!

A New Home and New Name for the Yankee Air Museum

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Yankee Air Museum

Exciting changes are in store for the Yankee Air Museum near Detroit! After a long campaign to “Save the Bomber Plant”, YAM has finalized the purchase of a portion of the former Willow Run Bomber Plant to act as the museum’s new home. The plant was used by Ford to produce thousands of B-24 Liberator bombers during World War II, and was later converted into an auto plant for General Motors. The museum has always triumphed the historical nature of the plant, and when it was condemned to demolition they saw an opportunity to preserve at least a portion of it while also securing the museum’s future accomodations. At the same time, the museum announced that it will no longer be known as Yankee Air Museum and will instead be called the National Museum of Aviation and Technology at Historic Willow Run. The identity changeover will occur once the museum moves into the new space, expected to happen a few years from now.

The new location, an 18-acre parcel located on the West side of the Willow Run Airport, will bring some incredible new opportunities to the museum. All of the aircraft that currently reside in the outdoor static display park on the opposite side of the airport will be moved indoors, including the gigantic B-52 Stratofortress bomber. This decision is very encouraging, especially as some other museums around the country are opting to destroy their outdoor exhibit aircraft once they fall into disrepair rather than invest in preserving them.

The mission of the museum will be updated to become a bit more defined, yet broader at the same time. The core mission will remain one of honoring veterans and preserving vintage military aircraft, but the evolution of aviation technology will also be put on display through the exhibits. One unique point of emphasis for the new museum will be explaining Detroit’s role in supporting the war efforts of WWII and other conflicts. “More and more, we’re becoming an educational institution,” says Kevin Walsh, the museum’s Executive Director, “but for the aviation lovers, we’re not going anywhere.”

The money raised so far will cover not only the actual purchase of the building, but also required improvements to the structure and the outfitting of utilities. The museum won’t be able to move in, however, until additional money is raised to pay for finishing the interior. A new concrete floor will need to be put down, offices and classrooms will need to be created, and exhibits will need to be built and installed.

B-25 Mitchell "Yankee Warrior" - Yankee Air MuseumB-17 Flying Fortress "Yankee Lady" - Yankee Air Museum

One thing the museum is not looking to put into the plant currently is support for their “flyables”, the B-17, B-25, and C-47 aircraft that are the crown jewels of the museum. These aircraft will continue to be housed in a hangar leased from the airport, as they have been since the museum’s original hangar burned to the ground in 2004. This arrangement will prevent the museum from having to install $2.5 million worth of infrastructure, such as a foam fire suppression system and fire wall, into the bomber plant building. Luckily, the museum has been given permission to build a connecting tunnel between the bomber plant and the nearby county hangar to allow visitors to see the flyable aircraft. Contingency plans are also being factored into the bomber plant renovation so that it can be upgraded to house flying aircraft should the need arise in the future.

As the final move in date nears, the museum will sell off its current home, a building purchased to act as the museum’s headquarters after the 2004 hangar fire. The Robertson Education Center, a 1938 school house that was relocated to be near the headqaurters building, will be moved again and placed inside the new hangar where it can be protected from the elements. Along with the removal of the static aircraft park, this will eliminate the museum’s presence on the Eastern half of the airport.

Thunder Over MichiganWWII Reenactment - Thunder Over Michigan

The museum’s popular Thunder Over Michigan airshow, however, will retain its traditional layout on the East ramp rather than being held on the much busier and logistically challenging West ramp adjacent to the new museum. Although the prospect of having the sun in your face all afternoon is a frustrating one for photographers, this ensures that the unique WWII battle reenactments will be able to take place during the airshow.

If you would like to help the Yankee Air Museum/National Museum of Aviation and Technology in this fantastic endeavor, you can donate directly at SaveTheBomberPlant.org.

Be sure to check out our photos from this year’s Thunder Over Michigan airshow in our photo gallery!