WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB — The skies over the National Museum of the United States Air Force will be roaring May 17-19 as a dozen World War II era aircraft fly in to celebrate the opening of the exhibit for the B-17F Memphis Belle.
That exhibit will open on Thursday, May 17, 75 years to the day after it flew its last mission over the skies of Nazi Germany in 1943. The aircraft has undergone extensive restoration at the museum since 2003.
The Memphis Belle and her crew became iconic symbols of the heavy bomber crews and support staff that flew bombing missions over Germany. The plane was the first U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) heavy bomber to complete 25 missions and return to the United States.
From June to August, 1943, the USAAF used the plane for a highly-publicized war bond tour as its crew was celebrated as heroes. The plane, and her crew, inspired two movies, one in 1944 and another in 1990.
The B-17 Movie Memphis Belle will join B-17G Yankee Lady and B-17G Aluminum Overcast, along with six P-51 Mustangs and three WWII-era trainer aircraft in the skies over the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on May 16 as part of the events surrounding the opening of the new Memphis Belle exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
Plans call for the WWII-era aircraft to land at the museum on May 16 between 8-9 a.m. The aircraft will then be available for viewing on static display May 17-18 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. On May 18 at approximately 4:30 p.m., visitors in the museum’s Memorial Park may view the aircraft as they take-off and depart the grounds.
The Memphis Belle, which has not been on public display since 2002, and surrounding exhibit, along with a new strategic bombardment exhibit, will open to the public on May 17 following a ribbon cutting ceremony that will begin at approximately 9:15-9:30 a.m.
Wright Patterson Air Force Base has announced that an additional gate, 24B, for those traveling northbound only on Harshman Road, will be open for inbound traffic only on May 17-19 beginning at 8 a.m. Those traveling southbound on Harshman Road, or those in coaches, buses, RVs or oversized vehicles must use the museum’s main gate, 28B, on Springfield St.
Anyone wishing to see the static display on the museum’s back field on May 17-18 will be required to board a shuttle bus on the north side of Memorial Park. Shuttles will run continuously from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The last shuttle pick up will be at 3 p.m.
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or @VandaliaDrummer on Twitter.