“The Candy Bomber” Gail Halvorsen, former US pilot has died at the age of 101. He gives the idea of dropping parachutes loaded with sweets and chocolates for children into Berlin during the Soviet blockade.
The Allied Museum dedicated to Cold War history in Berlin, former American sector confirmed media reports of Halvorsen’s death on Wednesday.
“Gail Halvorsen died in Utah in a hospital, surrounded by his family,” a museum spokeswoman said according to AFP.
A lifelong ambassador for German-American friendship, Halvorsen became famous in the embattled city as the first American pilot to drop bundles of chocolate and chewing gum from his plane to local youngsters waiting on ground.
Fans nicknamed him “the candy bomber” and “Uncle Wiggly Wings” for the way he maneuvered his plane. The children, still traumatized by the war, would know to look out for incoming treats.
He inspired many imitators in the ranks of the air force.
“Even though I flew day and night, ice and snow, I was happy because of the look on the faces of the children when they would see parachutes coming down from the sky,” he told AFP in 2009.
“They would just go crazy.”
Halvorsen rose to the rank of colonel and eventually ended up commander of the Tempelhof airfield, the staging ground for the 1948-49 Berlin airlift.
Pilots flew supplies to West Berlin’s 2.5 million people, still reeling from the Second World War.