The B-17F Memphis Belle was moved for the first time from a restoration hangar into the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. on March 14, 2018. JAMES BUCEHELE / STAFF

Need a way in? AF museum will open extra gate for Memphis Belle gala

Gate 24B off Harshman Road near the U.S. Army Reserve Center will be open to inbound traffic only starting at 8 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 17-19.

Those driving southbound on Harshman, and coaches, buses, RVs or other oversized vehicles, won’t be allowed to enter through Gate 24B and must drive through 28B, the main gate off Springfield Street, according to the museum.

The grass field in front of the museum will be open to parking but will not have handicapped spaces and will not be open to motorcycles, large buses and coaches, which must park on the paved lot.

Security personnel will screen visitors and backpacks, coolers, alcohol, weapons and bags larger than a backpack will not be allowed, organizers said.

Thousands of people are expected to throng to three days of public ceremonies and events, including World War II B-17 bombers, P-51 Mustang fighters, and training planes arriving on the museum’s airstrip as more than 160 re-enactors replaying the World War II era.

The Memphis Belle was the first American heavy bomber to complete 25 missions over Europe and return to the United States.

The plane arrived at the museum in 2005 and has been under restoration since.