Seven decades after the last aircraft rolled away from the assembly lines, the industrial might displayed at the Willow Run bomber plant remains a point of automotive pride.
At the height of World War II, a B-24 Liberator emerged from the Ford Motor Co. factory in Ypsilanti, Mich., every 63 minutes, a frenetic pace unmatched by America's aircraft manufacturers of the era. Willow Run produced 8,685 bombers by the end of the war, a number that underscored the power of Ford's mass-production techniques in aviation applications.
But the lessons haven't been relegated to history. Now, there are increasing signals the two industries are converging again.
Flying taxis will emerge as a $150 billion industry over the next 15 years, according to business research firm PitchBook. More than 100 startups exist in the urban air mobility space now, and some of the best-funded companies are seeking automotive partners to transform high hopes into tangible fleets.