A Dakota D3 of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight has today, Friday 30 may 2008, carried a symbolic cargo of coal, teddies and chocolate to Berlin to mark 60 years since the Berlin Airlift. The Dakota is an original 1940s aircraft, typical of the type the RAF would have used during the eleven months of the airlift, a humanitarian air operation to bring supplies to the people of West Berlin in 1948-1949 after all road and rail access to that part of the city had been blocked by the Soviets. Up to 12,000 tonnes of coal, food and fuel was flown into Berlin daily by an air armada landing, at the peak times, at the rate of one aircraft a minute. It was an unparalleled operation which, undoubtedly, prevented starvation in the city.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Loadmaster Squadron Leader Marcus Lee hands a young Berliner from the Berlin International School a "pilot" teddy provided by the charity Aviation Without Frontiers.
Today, the "candy bomber", as the Berliners called the transport aircraft, "delivered" a consignment of teddy bears, eagerly received by children from the Berlin International School. They were known as "candy bombers" after allied aircrew got into the habit of attaching sweets to tiny parachutes and dropping them to children as they flew low over the city on their routes in and out.
Squadron Leader Al Pinner, Officer Commanding Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, said: "This is a very appropriate mission for this aircraft doing just what the BBMF is all about, remembering. For the people of Berlin this whole chapter in the city’s history is well known - it’s still being taught to children in school today."
The Dakota also brought in a piece of coal from an English pit, presented by UK Coal which Sqn Ldr Pinner will present to local dignatries on Sunday afternoon at a formal ceremony.
Source: The Royal Air Force (RAF)
Picture provided and copyrighted by The Royal Air Force (RAF) - SAC Mark Dixon
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