When the Soviet blockade in West Berlin stopped supplies from getting in, the Berlin Airlift began. The U.S. and the British RAF flew supplies into the city from June 24, 1948, until May 12, 1949.
The two countries flew more than 2.3 tons of supplies in more than 280,000 flights. One of the more notable pilots who participated was Gail S. Halvorsen.
Halvorsen was a private pilot in Utah. At the age of 21, he got his license through the Civil Air Patrol. Halvorsen signed up with the Army Air Force when World War II began.
He was stationed in the South Atlantic flying C-46 and C-47 transport planes. When the war was over, Halvorsen stayed with the Air Force.
He was sent to fly in the Berlin Airlift in July 1948. He flew C-47s and C-54s to the Tempelhof Airport.
Walking The City
One night, after he was done, he walked around the city of Berlin. While he was there, he spoke with some children who were watching the planes come and go.
The kids told him how much they appreciated the drops. Halvorsen appreciated hearing this and shared some gum with the kids, who were beyond excited.
He promised to drop more candy for the children the following day and keep an eye out for his plane.
Halvorsen made sure to keep his promise. He collected candy from his friends and put them into little handkerchief parachutes.
He dropped candy once a week. Each week the number of children eagerly waiting grew. After three weeks, Gen Willian H. Tunner heard of the drops and made them officially a part of Operation Vittles.
His whole squadron got in on it. They purchased all the candy they could find and packaged them with little parachutes. Once American companies and children heard about the operation, they wanted to donate candy to the operation.
Halvorsen became known in Berlin as "Uncle Wiggly Wings" or "The Chocolate Flier." In the U.S., he was known as "The Candy Bomber." The "Little Vittles" operation dropped more than 46,000 pounds and more than 250,000 parachutes.