Watch our landing footage and interviews with museum personnel below!
GENESEO – A flying national celebrity returned on Thursday to take up permanent residency at the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo and continue her work honoring veterans and educating the public about World War II.
This 74-foot long, 103-foot wingspan Boeing B-17 ‘Flying Fortress’ portrayed the fabled ‘Memphis Belle,’ one of the first B-17 United States Army Air Force heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions with her crew intact, in the 1990 movie Memphis Belle.
“I feel good that it’s coming back,” said Mike Lindsay, a volunteer at the Warplane Museum. “It’s kind of back where it belongs. This museum gives people the opportunity to see the past. This is our way to keep the memory and the heritage of the planes and they young men who flew these into battle, and gave their lives. It gives us a chance to teach the younger generation exactly why they have everything that they have now.”
The ‘Movie Memphis Belle’ was operated by the Warplane Museum in Geneseo from the 90’s until 2012. She is returning home after a 4-year stint in Georgia, where she was operated by another flight group. It was due to the efforts of the museum’s volunteers like Lindsay, Director of Planning and Government Affairs and Media Relations Director Dawn Schaible, pilot Craig Johnson, Board of Directors Richard Ash, and President Austin Wadsworth that she returned.
“We are well positioned to be able to continue the maintenance of an airplane like the ‘Memphis Belle,'” said Craig Wadsworth. “We’ll doing a complete airframe inspection on it, any work that’s necessary to be done, and begin to operate it again as part of our educational program here at the museum.”
The arrival of the ‘Movie Memphis Belle’ was delayed several times by this week’s harsh winter weather. She was on her way up from Georgia on Sunday when she came across a fierce band of winter weather and had to land in Tennessee. Only after Tuesday’s snowstorm had passed and museum volunteers came together to move 5,000 tons of snow from the runway and taxiway did she continue her journey.
“We all work on these things together, and she’s coming home no matter what,” said Joe Kreminski, museum volunteer and retired director with the Military Aircraft Restoration Corps. “Looks like Mother Nature threw a big curveball in her path, but here she comes.”
Wadsworth added that the plan is to make the ‘Movie Memphis Belle’ a highlight in the museum’s 2016 airshow over the summer. She will tour the air show circuit and will visit other aviation, museum and tourism venues throughout the east coast from her home in Geneseo.
The Museum is completely funded by internal fundraising programs.