Memphis Belle Exhibit Debuts At National Air Force Museum

May 16, 2018

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.

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.