World War II ended with Germany divided into four sectors managed by the U.S., Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. The city of Berlin was inside the Soviet sector. On June 24, 1948, the Russian government closed the roads and rivers routes to Berlin, a city of about 2.5 million people.
The United States and Britain responded by initiating the world’s largest airlift to supply the civilians of that city with coal and food. Local area resident, Gail Halvorsen, was a pilot of a C-54 making delivery flights. Noticing the kids along the airport fence he walked over and handed out a couple candy bars broken into pieces. The kids were thrilled and so was Gail and his crew. He said he would return and drop candy on his approach to land. He made parachutes to drop the candy and then it became a stateside national project to make parachutes for the Berlin “Candy Bomber”. During the Berlin airlift the United States delivered 1,393,243 tons of coal, 929,485 tons of food, and 23 tons donated candy, dropped with 250,000 handmade handkerchief parachutes.
Gail Halvorsen, passed away Feb. 17 at the age of 101. To honor Gail Halvorsen an international event is scheduled May 20 and May 21 at the Spanish Fork and Provo Airports. The only flying C-54 will be at the Provo Airport on Friday and the Spanish Fork airport on Saturday. On Friday afternoon a C-17 airport for static display and a candy drop. A new C-17 will be christened the Spirt of Gail Halvorsen. The Saturday event will have events celebrating the life and legacy of Col. Gail Halvorsen, including a C-54 flyover and parachute candy drop. The C-17 and C-54 will make a formation fly by. Static aircraft displays, the US Air Force Band will play patriotic and era music adding to the backdrop of this program. The concluding event will be groundbreaking for the Gail S. Halvorsen Aviation Education Center at the Spanish Fork Airport.
International visitors are expected from Germany, England, and France. Including a few Germans who were children during the candy drop, Senior Air Force officers and Civil Air Patrol Officers, National, State and local political leaders well be present to honor Halvorsen. The public tickets are only $5 and children under five are free. To purchase a ticket make your reservation online at candybomber.org . All funds go to support the Halvorsen Aviation Education facility. (Serve Daily submission.)