Photography by Ian L. Sitren

Berlin Airlift 70 Years Ago

I really enjoy the purpose when my videos and photos get to share both excitement and history. Here with the Palm Springs Air Museum.

The Berlin Airlift 70 years ago started on June 24, 1948. From our Palm Springs Air Museum friend, Brooks Wachtel, Emmy Award Winner and Co-Creator of the epic History Channel series “DogFights”. More below…

“The Soviet Union began the Berlin Blockade. It was an attempt to gain control over the allied sections of the city by preventing food from reaching the inhabitants.

The allies answered with the largest airlift in history, flying in supplies on the gamble that the Soviets would not launch an overt and provocative attack on these aircraft.

By April, 1949, they were flying in more supplies than had previously been delivered by rail. In May the humiliated Soviets gave up and opened the land routes.”

In total, the USAF delivered 1,783,573 tons and the RAF 541,937 tons, nearly two-thirds of which was coal, on 278,228 flights to Berlin. The Royal Australian Air Force delivered 7,968 tons of freight and 6,964 passengers during 2,062 sorties. The C-47s and C-54s together flew over 92 million miles in the process, almost the distance from Earth to the Sun. At the height of the Airlift, one plane reached West Berlin every thirty seconds. Pilots came from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.

The C-47 “What’s Up Doc?” is a veteran of the Berlin Airlift. And right now in the air-conditioned hangars of the Palm Springs Air Museum where you can watch “Doc” undergoing it’s routine annual inpsection. That is something you will not see everyday. Check it out!

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