The 60th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, when Allied forces flew thousands of tons of food to a city isolated by Soviet forces, will be observed this Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-7, with the arrival of a C-54 transport plane that helped save the people of Berlin from starvation at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, N.Y.
“The Soviets had not a doubt that they could capture the western sectors of Berlin without firing a shot by merely closing down rail and road traffic to that Cold War flashpoint,” said Jeff Clyman, president and founder of the museum. “They did not anticipate the courage, commitment and resources of American and British air forces in bringing in the enormous amount of supplies that compelled the Soviets to back down.”
Between June 1948 and the spring of 1949, American and British air forces provided the city of Berlin with food, medical supplies, and fuel through 1,500 of flights every day, around the clock, regardless of the weather. The airlift stunned the Soviets who thought it would be impossible to break through their blockade. By the end of the historic effort the Allies were bringing 5,000 tons of supplies a day in by air, more than enough to keep the people of West Berlin alive and well.
It was also during this campaign that American transport pilots, led by Gail Halvorsen, began to drop candy bars attached to small parachutes as a means of raising the spirits of Berlin’s children. To this day Halvorsen and his colleagues are fondly remembered as “Candy Bomber” pilots by those who were children in Berlin.
The operational C-54 visiting the museum is similar to Halvorsen’s and is part of the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation based in New Jersey. Its president, Tim Chopp, explains, “The foundation is dedicated to preserving the memory and legacy of the greatest humanitarian and aviation event in history, The Berlin Airlift. Our mission is to honor this memory by preserving several aircraft used in the great event and creating ‘Flying Memorials and Classroom’ with the purpose of educating the public about this pivotal, yet little known world event.”
An admission donation will be requested of $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and veterans and $5 for children.
For more information: AmericanAirPowerMuseum.com