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Memphis Belle Exhibit Debuts At National Air Force Museum

An assortment of WWII-era planes took to the skies above Dayton Wednesday, as the National Museum of the United States Air Force unveiled its latest exhibit. The show includes the restored B-17 bomber called The Memphis Belle. The infamous plane was the first to complete 25 missions over Europe during the Second World War. The plane and its missions were the subject of a documentary, and a feature film.

The renovated B-17 used in the 1990 film the movie, also called Memphis Belle, was part of the early morning flyover above the museum.

While inclement weather prevented a scheduled landing of the planes, several bombers were flown back to Grimes Field in Urbana, where visitors could see them firsthand or purchase rides.

John Lowther of Miamisburg was on hand for the museum flyover and decided to drive the extra miles for a closer look at the planes in Urbana.

“They always rally up here at Grimes because this is really a friendly field for military aircraft buffs and aircraft,” the aviation enthusiast says. “So, we thought we’d come - they’ve got a terrific diner and you just can’t find a better place to look at airplanes.”

A Grimes Field official runs through some protocols for passengers before they take flight in the Memphis Belle.
A Grimes Field official runs through some protocols for passengers before they take flight in the Memphis Belle.

Helping to coordinate some of the B-17 activities at Grimes this week is Ron Kaplan. He says several groups have also planned other events around the Memphis Belle opening.

“The 401st bomb group and men from the 91st, and the 100th bomb group in Dayton, also a lot of the relatives, but also a lot of people come up who aren't familiar with the aircraft or the story and [they] ask a lot of questions," he says. "So, it's a great way to educate the public about this era in history, and specifically about these aircraft and the men that flew them."

Weather permitting, several more museum flyovers are expected to continue through the weekend. 

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.