Monday, December 9, 2013

Berlin Airlift Candy Bomber

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The Monroe Veteran's Day Air Show was honored to have the Douglas C-54 "Spirit of Freedom", a flying museum for Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation. The Berlin Airlift was the greatest humanitarian / aviation event in history, named "Operation Vittles".

The most famous Airlift Hero is Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, "The Berlin Airlift Candy Bomber". He was aboard as part of the crew to fly their reenactment of Col. Halvorsen's now famous "Operation Little Vittles" candy-parachute drops. As part of their "Mission of History, Education, and Remembrance", these candy drops are more significant than ones done in the past as only 31 parachutes are dropped on each pass, each parachute representing an American Serviceman lost in aviation accidents during the Berlin Airlift.

The Berlin Blockade (24 June 1948 – 11 May 1949) was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. During the multinational occupation of post-World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the three Western powers' railroad and street access to the western sectors of Berlin that they had been controlling. Their aim was to force the western powers to allow the Soviet controlled regions to start supplying Berlin with food and fuel, thereby giving them nominal control over the entire city.

In response, the Western Allies formed the Berlin Airlift to supply the city over pre-arranged air corridors. The effort was initially viewed with skepticism even in the countries mounting the attempt, as this sort of logistical effort had never been mounted before. However, America's president at the time was Harry S. Truman, who had this to say about the crisis, "There is no discussion, We stay in Berlin, Period!" The airlift to supply the German 6th Army at Stalingrad required 300 tons per day and rarely came even close to delivering this; the Berlin effort would require at least 5,000 tons a day, well over ten times as much. In spite of this, by the spring of 1949 the effort was clearly succeeding, and by April the airlift was delivering more cargo than had previously flowed into the city via rail.The success of the Airlift was humiliating to the Soviets, who had repeatedly claimed it could never possibly work. When it became clear that it was, the blockade was lifted in May. One lasting legacy of the Airlift are the three airports in the former western zones of the city, which served as the primary gateways to Berlin for another fifty years.

I was fortunate to meet Col Halvorsen after his Candy Bomber drop at the 100th Anniversay of the Wright Brother’s first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC. After seeing the event a close friend introduced me to Col Halvorsen and we had a most interesting visit! Someone asked Col. Halvorsen, did you ever seriously fear that you would be shot down while flying in the airspace of the Soviet sector? Did you ever have a moment when you said, "My God, I'm not going to get out of this alive?" Gail Halvorsen: "In the beginning, when we were first buzzed by Russian fighters, we wondered if we would be shot down, we wondered if we would be shot at by the Russian fighters that buzzed us. But they didn't shoot because President Truman put 60 B-29 bombers on the runways in England and told Stalin he would have a problem if he shot at our transport aircraft. So we voted for Truman every flight!

I shared with him my experience when I was a Company Commander in Germany and how I, then later my troops, went thru Check Point Charlie of the Berlin Wall, less than four years after the wall went up, to see the communist side of East Berlin. Upon returning back to the base I gave a 3 day pass to each soldier that wanted to make the free trip on the troop train to Berlin. I then wished that I had a rubber stamp with my signature. I promised them if they made the trip and experienced the difference between East and West Berlin that they would then know why they wear the uniform of the US Army! Col Halvorsen immediately said, “Now that is what I call leadership” I received an autographed copy of his book The “Berlin Candy Bomber

I highly recommend reading to your children "Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot", a true story of a seven-year old girl named Mercedes who lived in West Berlin during the airlift and of the American who came to be known as the Chocolate Pilot, by Margot Theis Raven.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

1929 Ford Tri-Motor Coming to Monroe, NC (Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport) Oct 17th - Oct 20, 2013

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EAA Chapter 309 is again sponsoring the 1929 EAA Ford Tri-Motor by bringing it to Monroe, NC, Oct 17 - Oct 20, 2013! Flight Times are Oct 17th 2 - 5PM; Oct 18th - 20th 9AM - 5PM. The event will be hosted by the Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport, 
3900 Paul J Helms Drive, Monroe, NC 28110, a designated relief airport for the Charlotte Douglas Airport.  Book your flight at or call 877-952-5395.  Special pricing for Veterans and Active Duty Military available at the event.  

The Charlotte/Monroe area public will have a rare chance to experience the early days of air travel in an aircraft that made aviation history. The Ford Tri-Motor was the airplane that gave rise to scheduled passenger flights. The first scheduled passenger flight, as well as the first scheduled air freight flight, took place in a Ford Tri-Motor. The EAA Tri-Motor is the actual plane that was first used to start Eastern Airlines passenger service! On May 17,1937, Eastern Airlines flew the first scheduled airline passenger flight into Charlotte.  All major airlines began with a Tri-Motor. Only 199 were originally built. Now, only 1-3 airplanes remain airworthy.

Henry Ford mobilized millions of Americans and created a new market with his Model T “Tin Lizzie” automobile from 1908 to 1926. After World War I he recognized the potential for mass air transportation. Ford’s Tri-Motor aircraft, nicknamed “The Tin Goose,” was designed to build another new market, AIRLINE TRAVEL!  All major airlines started with the Ford Tri-Motor.

After an arduous, twelve-year restoration process by EAA staff, volunteers and with assistance from Ford Tri-Motor operators nationwide, the old Tri-Motor once again took to the air. Its official debut was at the 1985 EAA convention in Oshkosh. It was displayed in the AirVenture Museum until 1991 when it returned to its former role of delighting passengers and now with local EAA Chapter Sponsored rides over their home town at very modest prices. Ford Tri-Motor NC8407 is the flagship of EAA’s Pioneer Airport, a part of the AirVenture Museum experience. It is even a Movie Star!  More History and Aircraft Specifications.

A local newspaper columnist reported on his Ford Tri-Motor "flight back in time" at Concord Regional Airport during the last visit.  Thanks to O.C. Stonestreet for his great article that was published in the Statesville Record & Landmark and the Concord Independent Tribune.

Book flights On-Line or call 877-952-5395.
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Flying the Queen of Vintage

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Airbus A380 - One Cockpit - Two Pilots - Six Cameras

Watch the Airbus A380 make it's first landing at San Francisco.  Fly with them in the cockpit and see how it is done! CLICK HERE

One Cockpit - Two Pilots - Six Cameras | Welcome to -

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

EAA 309 Young Eagle Pilot's Murphy

This is a 6 minute video that was put together by one of our Chapter 309's Young Eagle Pilots. Come along with Fred for a short ride from pre-flight to landing in the plane that he built.  Look for Fred and his beautiful airplane at our Young Eagle Rallies where he very well could be your pilot and you his CO-PILOT!  Also be sure to visit his photo album.