LONDONDERRY — In terms of history, it’s a very sweet lesson about “candy bombing.”
The legendary Berlin Airlift, in which candy packages were delivered via parachute to children below, will be re-enacted at the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
Packages of chocolate and gum will be dropped from a helicopter. The event, part of the Aviation Museum’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, is free and open to the public.
The chopper, piloted by Bob Cloutier of CR Helicopters of Nashua, is expected to arrive over the museum grounds at about 10:30 a.m. Once the drop is complete and the helicopter clears the area, children will be allowed to retrieve candy packages from the field.
“What better way to get kids to be aware of the Berlin Airlift than to re-enact the famous candy bombings that gave hope to Berlin’s children,” said Jeff Rapsis, the Aviation Museum’s executive director.
The outdoor event will be held weather permitting. Attendees are encouraged to arrive by 10 a.m. in order to witness and participate in the re-enactment.
The aerial candy bombings, known as “Operation Little Vittles,” were a highly visible part of the Berlin Airlift, which lasted from June 1948 to September 1949 and was the largest non-combat military operation of the 20th century.
The Airlift supplied citizens of Berlin with 2.3 million tons of vital supplies during a period when the Soviets blockaded the city. An extention of that effort, the candy bombings brought 23 tons of sweets to Berlin’s children, most of it donated from companies and families in the United States.
The candy bombings started by chance, when a young C-54 pilot from Utah, Lt. Gail Halvorsen, noticed children hanging around the fence at Berlin’s Templehof Airport. He promised he’d return with candy, and he did, dropping it from his plane via miniature parachutes made from handkerchiefs.
Halvorsen’s efforts started a program that grew to encompass hundreds of pilots and lasted throughout the Berlin Airlift.
Following the candy bombing re-enactment, the Aviation Museum will mark the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift with a program featuring Nashua native Ralph G. Dionne, a Berlin Airlift veteran. Dionne, now 92, served as a mechanic and flight engineer during the Airlift.
Dionne will speak and answer questions about his experiences at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“This is an increasingly rare opportunity to hear a first-hand account of the Berlin Airlift from a New Hampshire resident who actually took part in it,” Rapsis said.
The presentation, in honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, is included with museum admission of $10 per person; cost is $5 for seniors 65 and older as well as veterans and active military and students under 13. Children under age 5 and museum members get in free of charge. For more information, visit www.nhahs.org or call 669-4820. The Aviation Museum is located at 27 Navigator Road.