The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot"
- Author: Michael O. Tunnell
- Reading level: Ages 9 and up
- Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing; New edition (July 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1580893368
Berlin Airlift Remembered After 60 Years
Who would guess that candy, handkerchiefs and one man would play a significant role in post–World War II Germany? As the subtitle indicates, Gail Halvorsen, a lieutenant in the U.S. Force, became the “Chocolate Pilot” when his face-to-face encounter with a group of starving children in Berlin led to a personal mission. Halvorsen gave them two sticks of gum, which they all shared, and that was the start of Operation Little Vittles. Inspired by the children’s willingness to forego Soviet-offered food in favor of freedom, Halvorsen and fellow pilots made numerous flights, dropping hanky parachutes that carried tons of candy and gum to eagerly awaiting children, who learned that the planes’ “wiggling their wings” meant goodies were on their way. Illustrated with black-and-white archival photos, the six chapters convey Halvorsen’s life, interjecting comments and correspondence from individual children. The abundance of war details aid in the transition from one chapter to the next but tend to overrun the telling, hampering narrative flow. Readers who stick with it, however, will gain a unusual perspective on the beginnings of the Cold War.