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Theresa Lussier's Blog

By Theresa Lussier | Agent in Huber Heights, OH

Memphis Belle Restoration Tours at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

The National Museum of the US Air Force, commonly called the Air Force Museum, will be the final resting place of the famed WWII bomber, the Memphis Belle. She's not quite ready for prime time, but visitors to the museum can see the restoration progress in a behind the scenes tour. From FoxNews.com:

The plane will eventually be displayed at the National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. But in the meantime, the public can see the progress of the Belle while museum staffers and volunteers finish the painstaking process of reassembling it over the next two years at the base. This is great news for military aircraft buffs.

On most Fridays, museum visitors who sign up in advance online are bused over to the remote hangars for a three-hour behind the scenes tour that includes a number of planes being restored for display in the museum. The place looks like a boneyard for once-proud flying machines, strewn with fuselage shells, unattached wings and other pieces, but the tours led by volunteer guides who know their stuff bring the old aircraft to life. ...

It's a very famous aircraft and is very historically significant, too, and it's really appropriate for us to have it here, said Greg Hassler, a restoration supervisor at the museum. For us to be able to honor what I consider the greatest generation, to restore an icon like this, is just a tremendous honor. ...

The B-17F Flying Fortress piloted by then-Lt. Robert Morgan had its famous name before it left the U.S. mainland. Morgan, who died in 2004, said it was inspired by his sweetheart, 19-year-old Memphis resident Margaret Polk. The actual moniker came from a riverboat in a John Wayne movie called Lady for a Night that Morgan and his co-pilot saw the night before the crew voted on a name. The art was a copy of a pinup girl created by artist George Petty for an issue of the men's magazine Esquire in 1941. ...

One of more than 12,000 B-17 heavy bombers built for the war effort, the Belle and its 10-man crew flew daring daylight precision bombing raids on industrial targets and submarine pens in Germany and occupied France from a base in central England. It was harrowing duty. Two out of three young men — their average age was 20 — who flew on those missions did not survive the war. The Memphis Belle and crew beat the odds in a big way.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2012/06/11/tour-offers-access-to-memphis-belle-restoration/#ixzz1xa6novWI

Planning your trip to Dayton's most visited tourist attraction? Visit the Air Force Museum online for full details, hours, and to sign up for a tour of the Memphis Belle restoration.

Photo credit: Wiki Commons

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