Yankee Air Museum air show at Willow Run Airport canceled
For the first time in 21 years, there won’t be an air show hosted by the Yankee Air Museum. The Thunder Over Michigan show, which was going to be held on Aug. 29-30 2020 at Willow Run Airport, has been canceled.
The museum is not offering refunds but ticket holders will receive equivalent tickets to the show for the next two years.
Kevin Walsh, event director at the museum, said the pandemic and the restrictions that come with it made it impossible to hold the show, which typically draws tens of thousands of spectators and hundreds of volunteers.
“We don’t want to put out a substandard product,” Walsh said.
The museum’s main priority is the safety of visitors and staff members, he said, noting that many of the museum’s staff members are older and are more susceptible to coronavirus. The museum, a nonprofit that educates visitors on aviation history, closed back in March. Walsh said it has accrued a $650,000 deficit during the closure. The museum reopened on June 30.
Walsh said he and his colleagues feared that spending thousands of dollars on the air show just to have it canceled would be a major financial setback.
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“We have to be careful where we are putting our money — where we put our money better be a go,” said Walsh.
Plans are already underway for the 2021 Thunder Over Michigan Air Show. The show is expected/scheduled for Aug. 7-8, 2021. People who bought tickets for the 2020 show will receive equivalent tickets for the 2021 show as well as complimentary tickets for the 2022 Air Show.
“While a global pandemic is very much out of our control, we still want to give our current ticket holders a special consideration for being so loyal and dedicated,” Walsh said.
During its closure, the Yankee Air museum bulked up its virtual offerings, adding what it calls the Creativity Hangar to its website. This feature, which is marketed toward children, uses digital activities to teach visitors about aviation history including storytimes, games, crafts, puzzles and oral histories.
The Creativity Hangar, Walsh said, was in the works for a while, but the shutdown provided the push needed to get the project done. Walsh notes that parents have sent emails and shared messages on social media thanking the museum for providing their children with activities and opportunities to continue learning.
Even though the 2020 Thunder Over Michigan Air show could not come together this year, Walsh said the museum team looks forward to next year.
“We built a reputation on being one of the top shows in the world and we look forward to keeping that place in the aviation community in 2021,” Walsh said.
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