Big weekend helps Air Force Museum gear up for busy summer

Boeing B-17F Memphis Belle on display in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/KEN LAROCK

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Boeing B-17F Memphis Belle on display in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/KEN LAROCK

Events start this weekend with plane displays, WWII memorials and more.

With the Air Force’s 75th birthday less than four months away, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is readying for a busy summer.

And it begins this weekend with a series of events focused on the Second World War. Visitors will have a rare chance to a look inside the storied Memphis Belle plane, the first heavy bomber to return to the United States after flying 25 missions over Europe in the Second World War.

Also on the calendar this weekend are Memorial Park pop-up concerts by the Air Force Band of Flight (2, 3 and 4 p.m. Sunday), movie presentations and the display of a replica of a Second World War Memorial.

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There will also be static displays of a couple of DC-3/C-47 planes, which should be available for viewing on the runway behind the museum. The DC-3s will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3:30 pm Sunday. They are slated to take off from the museum around 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Also planned is the showing of a movie, “Into Flight Once More,” on the history of these planes and the work it took to get these historic craft flying again.

The display of these aircraft is a big deal for many people, noted Doug Lantry, a historian for the museum.

“I think what draws people to things like that is the sense of a time machine,” Lantry said. “Seeing them fly and hearing the noise that they make really comes as close as you can get to actually traveling back in time. You’re seeing and hearing what people 75 to 80 years ago saw and heard.”

Lantry is looking forward to the chance to look inside the B-17 Memphis Belle, which will be opened up this weekend.

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Cockpit of the B-17F Memphis Belle plane on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Air Force photo.

Cockpit of the B-17F Memphis Belle plane on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Air Force photo.

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Cockpit of the B-17F Memphis Belle plane on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Air Force photo.

After more than a decade of restoration work, the museum publicly unveiled the restored Boeing B-17F Memphis Belle in 2018, exactly 75 years after its crew completed its historic 25th bombing mission over Nazi-controlled Europe in 1943.

“It’s the real thing,” Lantry said. “Being able to look inside of it is not something that happens every day. I highly recommend that.”

The aircraft is scheduled to be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the 78th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. The viewing is limited to 500 people daily, the museum said.

There also will be a B-25 flyover of the museum at about 9 a.m. Sunday. (Flyovers and departures depend on weather conditions.)

As the official Sept. 18 birthday of the Air Force approaches, much more is planned. A traveling exhibit of the Korean War Memorial will visit the museum June 25 and 26. In August, there will be events around the Vietnam Memorial, featuring a traveling exhibit of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall.

More on Air Force Museum events can be found on the museum’s web site, at https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/.

The museum, 1100 Spatz St., can be accessed at gate 28B off Springfield Street in Riverside. It’s open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Admission is free.

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