Military Museum Pushes Access Road Project
The museum’s Air Park includes aircraft from different branches of the military.
HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Not many museums require visitors to have a background check before entering, but that’s what happens before anyone can enter the Selfridge Military Air Museum.
The museum is located on Selfridge Air National Guard Base, a secure military installation, and visitors who do not have U.S. Government ID cards, who do not have Department Common Access Cards Defense or who are not in the Defense Biometric Identification System must undergo a mandatory security background check in order to obtain a base visitor pass. They must provide a valid US driver’s license, current vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.
Citizens of a foreign country wishing to visit the exhibits must provide 30 days notice to the general manager of the museum in order to coordinate a visit.
“It all depends on the process of the federal government,” the retired Air Force brigadier said. General Doug Slocum, a member of the museum’s board of trustees who last commissioned Selfridge ANGB in 2019. “You can’t just stop on a whim, which for a museum you want the people can come in and out.
“When I retired, my thought was, let’s stop talking about it and make it happen,” Slocum said.
Now the Selfridge Military Air Museum, located on base at 27333 ‘C’ Street, is seeking to change that requirement by seeking funding for a project that will allow the public to access the museum directly from the Rosso Freeway, without the visitors have to enter the base.
The museum includes thousands of exhibits, interactive learning demonstrations, and a collection of historic aircraft and exhibits. With public access, developers hope the museum will be a new tourist destination and have the opportunity to be an event center to spur economic development in Macomb County and southeast Michigan.
Slocum said the plan had already been approved by levels of government who needed to agree before the museum launched a campaign. Now, he says, they need to raise $3.5 million to pay for the project.
“That’s actually the easy part,” he said. “We are exploring many different options.”
Museum officials are seeking federal, state and local funding for the project, as well as private donations.
“We want people to be aware, (know) that this is a project and that people are defending it. The more you spread the word, the more support there is,” he said.
Slocum said they are already working with state and federal lawmakers to secure funding.
However, he said, “the more we can build the coalition, the better.”
Selfridge is over 105 years old, making it one of the oldest operating airfields in the country. Historical aviation figures such as the Wright brothers, Billy Mitchell, Charles Lindbergh, Jimmy Doolittle, Carl A. Spaatz and Curtis LeMay had ties to Selfridge, Slocum said.
The plan calls for the construction of a bridge over the Irwin Drain to provide a new entrance to Doolittle Drive. New airfield perimeter and base perimeter fencing would be constructed, and the perimeter road would be rerouted around the museum.
Slocum said plans also include building an education center and a pavilion where parties and community events could be held at the end of the track.
“It also gives us the opportunity to inspire our next generation,” he said.
With the base’s STEM educational outreach program – STARBASE One – located next to the museum, there could also be a synergy between it and the museum’s education hub.
“You can see what happened, and then you’re going to create a base for the next generation, to excite them too,” he said. “It opens up the possibility of making this something even bigger than it is today.”
The Selfridge Military Air Museum is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from April 2 to October 30. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and military, and $5 for children 4-17. Active duty military members in uniform are free, as are children 3 and under.
“It could really help with tourism and economic development in the community,” Slocum said. “It all adds up to things that are good for the community.”
To donate and learn more, visit www.selfridgeairmuseum.org/access or watch a video about the project at www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMiXie5v7os.