Seventy years later, Gail Halvorsen is still remembered in Germany. In those dark days following WWII, the Soviet Union and its allies, cut off road and water access to Berlin–known as the Berlin Blockade.
Residents were left to fend for themselves, do without necessities. The Berlin Airlift was formed to send relief supplies, from Rhein-Main Air Base, near Frankfurt, W. Germany to Templehof Airport, Berlin.
Supply planes came and went as fast and efficiently as air traffic control would allow. In a year, the blockade was broken–roughly, 1948-49. This year, 2019, marks the seventieth anniversary of the blockade’s end.
One of the pilots, Gail S. Halvorsen, tied candy and sweets to little parachutes. These were dropped before he landed at Templehof. He signaled his intentions, in advance, by wagging his plane’s wings.
That was how he became known as the “Candy Bomber” and “Uncle Wiggly Wings.” Gail Halvorsen went on to other pursuits–family man, student, rocket scientist, military commander, educator, mentor for youth, and man of faith.
Mr. Halvorsen was back in Germany recently to commemorate the daring aviation feat known as “Operation Vittles” seventy years before. The site, a public park where Templehof Airport once stood. He was his usual modest self–gave credit to all participants.
The Berlin Airlift is considered the Western powers first blow in the Cold War. Gail S. Halvorsen Aviation Foundation has more information.