WWII planes flyover museum ahead of Memphis Belle event

Local News

RIVERSIDE, Ohio (WDTN) — Several historic World War II aircraft scheduled to land at Wright Patterson Air Force Base Wednesday will no longer land due to weather.

Nearly a dozen World War II aircraft were scheduled to land as part of events for the unveiling of the Memphis Belle at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Due to inclement weather, those landings have been canceled.

The aircraft, including B-17 bombers and P-51 Mustangs will do a mass flyover of the area at 11 a.m. Wednesday, then again later on Wednesday as weather allows.

WPAFB officials are monitoring weather throughout the day as well. Officials say events planned for Thursday are expected to go on as planned.

The Memphis Belle World War II bomber is set to be unveiled this week after a full restoration, and local businesses say they’re prepared for possible additional customers.

Officials with the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which is hosting the event, say they’re expecting many visitors from around the world.

The Memphis Belle is the first B-17 to return to the United States after completing 25 missions over Europe, which is a rare and special accomplishment, according to Rob Bardua of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

“The Memphis Belle is truly significant,” Bardua said. “It’s an American icon.”

The museum previously had another B-17 on display, the Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby, Bardua said. That plane is now in storage, with plans to send it to the Smithsonian in Washington.

For this unveiling, he said, the museum is preparing for large crowds, including those from overseas.

“We have visitors coming to this event from Europe; from Anchorage, Alaska; another large contingent from Memphis,” Bardua said. “So visitors from around the world are coming to see this aircraft be unveiled.”

That means a possible boost in business in the area. Workers at nearby Charlie’s Drive Thru convenience store said events at the museum and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base often bring more customers.

“With the marathon they always have, we always notice it around that time,” said Brent Collett, a clerk at the store. “So it’s always a lot more busier.”

Bardua suggests giving yourself extra time if you’ll be driving in the area over the next few days due to the crowds expected.

Collett said he and his coworkers are always prepared for additional volume when events at the museum are happening.

“We’re pretty much non-stop out in the drive-thru and just always busy,” he said.

The Memphis Belle will officially be unveiled to the public on Thursday, but family members of the Memphis Belle crew will get to have a look at the fully-restored B-17 on Wednesday, according to the museum.

2 NEWS will stream the event live on WDTN.com, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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