It’s nice when the good guys win, and with his induction into the Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine at the Wright Brothers National Memorial on December 17, Colonel Gail Halvorsen proved that nice guys really can finish first.
He’s 99 years old, still very engaged with the world, energetic, and seemingly optimistic.
Get him talking about that fateful time during the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49 and an inside story about what was really happening emerges.
He was part of what is still considered the largest successful humanitarian airlift every. The Soviet Union, now Russia, sealed West Berlin off from the rest of the world and the only way in or out of the city was by air.
For 15 months mostly American but also British aircraft filled the skies, keeping a city of 2.4 million alive. Day in and day out, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, every three minutes an aircraft landed with food and fuel.
It was not luxury living. All the food was dehydrated—powdered eggs, dry milk, beans— and there wasn’t that much of it; 750 calories a day for children and 1250 for adults. Homes could barely be heated. But it was enough to keep a city alive and the freedom intact the citizens of the city so desperately wanted.
And Gail Halvorsen, then a 1st Lieutenant, did something so simple yet so profound that what he did reverberates to this day.
He tied handkerchiefs as a parachute to bars of candy and dropped them from his plane for the children of Berlin. He was the Candy Bomber.
If the aircraft flying into the city every three minute represented the power and wealth of the western world, that candy showed there was compassion and heart as well.
Colonel Halvorsen has been coming to the Outer Banks for some time with the Spirit of Freedom, the restored C54 that makes December candy bombing runs at the Dare County Airport.
This year he had another reason for coming to the Outer Banks his induction into the Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine was the perfect way to recognize the 70th anniversary of the end of the Berlin Airlift.
Take some time to explore the Outer Banks and all it has to offer. A stay with Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates is the perfect way spend a week or two.