WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — 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 World War II-era trainer aircraft in the skies over the National Museum of the US Air Force Wednesday, May 16 as part of the events surrounding the opening of the new Memphis Belle exhibit at the National Museum of the US Air Force.
The original B-17F Memphis Belle – the first US Army Air Forces heavy bomber to return to the United States after completing 25 combat missions over occupied Europe – will be unveiled to the public on Thursday, May 17 – exactly 75 years after its crew finished their last mission in the war against Nazi Germany on May 17, 1943.
Plans call for 11 of the WWII-era aircraft to land at the museum between 8-9 a.m. Wednesday, May 16. The aircraft will then be available for viewing on static display 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday-Friday, May 17-18. At approximately 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 18 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.
In addition to the aircraft, more than 160 reenactors from around the country will bring history to life by performing war-time skits, showcasing their displays and interacting with the public in an encampment near the museum’s 8th Air Force Control Tower, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 17-19 each day.
Thirty vintage military and civilian vehicles will be on display such as a 1938 Buick Special; 1942 Chevrolet airfield crash truck; 1943 Dodge WC-54 Ambulance; and several Willys MB Jeep and Ford GPW vehicles.
On Friday, May 18, a special outdoor Big Band concert featuring Glenn Miller music will be performed by Air Force Bands from 6-7:30 p.m., near the 8th Air Force Control Tower. The concert is free and no tickets are required. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets, and hard surfaces are available for wheelchairs.
Inside in the WWII Gallery there will be Memphis Belle themed trivia and a Memphis Belle artifact and restoration station.
Not only has the Memphis Belle been restored, but so too has William Wyler’s 1944 film “Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress.” A new 4K digital version of the film was recently refurbished by Vulcan Productions in partnership with Wyler’s daughter Catherine and Producer Erik Nelson, including the full color restoration of the film. It will premiere 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 17 in the Air Force Museum Theatre.
Prior to the film, Chris Henry of the EAA Aviation Museum, will speak about what life was like aboard the famous Flying Fortress in the war, and the bond that exists between the people and the machine.
Then 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19, the 1990 film “Memphis Belle” will be shown in the Air Force Museum Theatre. Henry will once again speak prior to the film.
The digital restored version of “The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress” will also be available for screenings during summer 2018 and sold on DVD.
Authors Graham Simons and Harry Friedman will also be signing copies of their book, “Memphis Belle: Dispelling the Myths” in the WWII Gallery.
Nine food trucks are scheduled to be on-hand for the event offering a variety of breakfast, lunch, ice-cream and beverage items.
For more information including event parking and photos and videos of the Memphis Belle, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Boeing-B-17F-Memphis-Belle-Exhibit-Opening-May-17-2018/.