The airlift – and the stand off it represented – lasted 10 whole months and spanned a harsh German winter. In addition to “lifting” food and supplies, the allies looked for ways to lift the spirits of the people as well. The key was to give them hope as they struggled to stay warm and stare hunger in the face.
It was Halvorsen who, after meeting a group of kids through a fence at Berlin's Tempelhof airport, came up with the idea of using handmade miniature parachutes to send them candy, bubblegum, and chocolates. He and his crew fully expected to be reprimanded for this action was unauthorized. But by the time the generals found out, they’d already received sacks full of letters, cards, and pictures expressing gratitude for the kindness. Even the tiny parachutes were returned, to help with the next run. The people didn't want it to stop!
The military government quickly realized this was a public relations coup and let Halvorsen and his friends continue the drops. Their “Operation Little Vittles” would go on to shower 23 tons of treats over the Berlin landscape. Each time the Candy Bomber delivered his sugary payload, he would rock his plane, left-right-left, several times to wave at the waiting children. With this gesture, Uncle Wiggly Wings reminded them that they were not forgotten; he encouraged them to hang on. And they did.
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