Colonel Gail Halvorsen
(born October 10, 1920) is a retired career officer and command pilot
in the United States Air Force
known as the original Candy Bomber
or the "Rosinenbomber" in Germany
. He was born in Salt Lake City
. He is best known for piloting C-47
during the Berlin airlift
(also known as "Operation Vittles") during 1948–1949.
Operation Little Vittles
Shortly before landing at the Tempelhof airport
in the American sector of Berlin, Halvorsen would drop candy attached to parachutes to children below. This action, which was dubbed Operation Little Vittles
and sparked similar efforts by other crews, was the source of the popular name for the pilots: the candy bombers. Halvorsen had wanted to help raise the morale of the children during the time of uncertainty and privation.
Halvorsen started by giving a few treats to children watching the planes from outside the Tempelhof base. Wanting to give more, he promised to drop more candy from his plane the next day. Because the planes would arrive every 90 seconds, the children naturally couldn't distinguish his aircraft from the others. However, Halvorsen promised to wiggle the wings to identify himself, which led to his nickname "Onkel Wackelflügel" ("Uncle Wiggly Wings"). The other American candy bombers became known as the Rosinenbombers (Raisin Bombers). Halvorsen's initiative drew the attention of the operation's commanding officer, Lieutenant General William......