Gail Halvorsen

Gail Halvorsen

American transport pilot who participated during the Berlin crisis in Operation Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949.
Date of Birth: 10.10.1920
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Gail Halvorsen
  2. Operation "Berlin Airlift"
  3. Contribution and Recognition
  4. Continued Philanthropy

Biography of Gail Halvorsen

Gail Halvorsen, born on October 10, 1920, in Salt Lake City, is an American transport aviation pilot who participated in the Berlin Airlift operation during the Berlin Crisis of 1948-1949.

Operation "Berlin Airlift"

During the Berlin Airlift, Halvorsen was stationed at Tempelhof Airport in the American-occupied zone of Berlin. Before landing at Tempelhof, he would drop candies attached to small parachutes on the ruins of the Berlin district of Neukölln for the children. This act of goodwill earned him and his fellow pilots the nickname "Raisin Bombers" (Rosinenbomber) as their planes resembled bombers dropping raisins. The children eagerly awaited Halvorsen's arrival, and to make him easily identifiable, he agreed to wiggle his wings as he approached for landing, earning him the nickname "Uncle Wiggly Wings." The news of Halvorsen's activities quickly spread to the press, generating widespread support.

Contribution and Recognition

Halvorsen and his crew began dropping over 400 kg of sweets daily. By the end of the "airlift," 25 aircraft crews had dropped a total of 23 tons of candies over Berlin. Halvorsen explained that he wanted to bring joy to the children who had experienced hardship and deprivation due to the bombings in Berlin. Many witnesses agreed that these actions significantly contributed to shaping a positive image of Americans in post-war Germany.

In 1974, Gail Halvorsen was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his service. Additionally, during the grand opening ceremony of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, Halvorsen carried a sign with the word "Germany" at the request of the German team.

Continued Philanthropy

In 2004, at the age of ninety, Halvorsen planned a similar candy drop for children in Iraq. Unfortunately, he did not receive permission from the military administration to carry out the operation. Nevertheless, his dedication to providing joy to children remained evident throughout his life.