Nestled on the shores of its namesake lake, Belleville is a community that's perfect for your next low key Michigan getaway. History buffs will love the city’s selection of museums like the Yankee Air Museum and Belleville Area Museum, which contain a variety of interactive displays and exhibits. If you're looking for outdoor fun then head to the Lower Huron Metropark; it covers more than 1,200 acres and offers opportunities for everything from golf to fishing.
Thunder Over Michigan has been a can't miss airshow experience since it began almost two decades ago, and it will take place September 2-4, at the Willow Run Airport. This year’s event will feature more than 50 airplanes from vintage WWII models like the P51-C Mustang to the cutting edge F/A-18F Hornet. Attendees will have the opportunity to schedule rides on a variety of planes such as the B-25, B-17, and more. The vaunted U.S. Navy Blue Angels will perform breathtaking aerial tricks and maneuvers in their F/A-18 Hornets, and their support plane (Fat Albert), a U.S. Marine Corps C-130 Hercules, will perform jet assisted takeoffs. A massive World War II reenactment will take place featuring more than 250 participants, the world's largest paratrooper drop, and a variety of vintage military vehicles. Matt Younkin will do his Beech 18 Performance, which consists of Cuban 8’s, point rolls, and loop aerial maneuvers. Proceeds from the event will go to the Yankee Air Museum aiming to educate the public about America's rich history of aviation and aerospace technology. We got the opportunity to interview Scott Buie, a representative of the event, to learn more about this impressive display of American aviation.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
SB: The event is in its 19th year.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
SB: Organizers anticipate between 80,000 - 100,000 attendees.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
SB: The demographic is relatively wide open, but families are a big part of the show. Children 15 and under can enter FREE!
RAL: What makes this event unique?
SB: There are dozens of aircraft that perform each year including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. The event is the only place in Michigan where you can see them this year. We will also have the World’s Largest Paratroop drop to accompany our WWII Battle Reenactment.
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
SB: There will be food vendors, sponsor booths, and kids activities like paintball and bounce houses. We also will have monster truck rides, live performances by dozens of aircraft, and static aircraft displays. Attendees can also purchase rides in our B-17, B-25, and C-47 planes!
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
SB: Yes, we have the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, The Shelton’s Wing Walking Show, May Younkin's Aerobatic Show, and many others.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
SB: There are several food vendors throughout the fair. Attendees can also buy seats in our club seating area which includes access to food and beverage tents.
RAL: What is the overall environment like?
SB: The show takes place on the runways of the Willow Run Airport. The event is loud and action packed!
RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?
SB: Being near Detroit Metro Airport offers a variety of accommodations. Also, we are just minutes away from Canton, Livonia, and Ann Arbor Michigan which feature a diverse selection of lodging options.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
SB: The annual event gives people the chance to see a part of aviation and military history up close. The Yankee Air Museum is a Michigan treasure with artifacts and aircraft that celebrate the history of the Willow Run Airport (the bomber plant that played a vital role in the US victories in WWII.) The Museum is currently converting the last remaining section of the old bomber plant into its new residence.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
SB: Yes, the event brings a significant amount of money into the area. Local businesses see a nice increase in sales over the weekend.
RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?
SB: The event is a fundraiser for the Museum. The Museum offers a detailed educational program and a slice of living history.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
SB: This is one of the best events in the area. It's the perfect way to learn about the rich history of the plant while seeing some of the finest restored aircraft around. From Sherman tanks to current fighter jets you'll see it all! The event is an excellent way to connect with your family, and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are a sight like no other. This event helps to raise funds for the museum which houses thousands of pieces of history and educates people on the rich tradition of American aviation.
For more information about Thunder Over Michigan, please visit the event website.