Willow Run Airport was named for a small stream that meandered through pastureland and woods until the late 1930s. Automobile pioneer Henry Ford bought the property that became the airport's runways and taxiways in 1931, and used it for almost a decade as farmland for a "social engineering" experiment.
Henry Ford, himself an isolationist, was prevailed upon in the spring of 1941 to accept a contract to build B-24 Liberator heavy bombers for the Army Air Forces, under license from the plane's designer Consolidated Aircraft. He chose as the site his Willow Run Farm and commenced building a massive industrial plant that became the Willow Run manufacturing complex.
Between 1946 and 1947, passenger airlines serving Detroit moved from Detroit City Airport on the city's crowded east side, to Willow Run. Willow Run's relative isolation encouraged new approaches to passenger transportation to and from airports when Warren Avis founded Avis Airlines Rent a Car Systems, the first rental car operation at an airport.
Almost all of Detroit's scheduled airline flights used Willow Run until 1958, when the coming of the Jet Age drove traffic to the Romulus airfield, which that year had been renamed Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. Airline flights ended in 1966 when United, TWA, Eastern, North Central, Mohawk and Lake Central moved to Metro Airport.
The Yankee Air Museum opened on the airport grounds in 1981. A fire in October 2004 destroyed the museum's building and most of its artifacts. In December 2017, the American Center for Mobility opened their autonomous vehicle proving ground, Technology Park, at the airport.
RWY 05: 109.50
RWY 23: 109.50