Berlin Airlift Map
After the first weeks of the airlift, the Allied effort to successfully supply Berlin was falling short. Air Force Major General William Tunner arrived to assist General Clay, who was not himself an airman. Tunner has overseen World War II's only successful large scale airlift of thousands of tons of supplies from India to China. Due to his strategic changes, the airlift effort escalated dramatically in scale, culminating in a 24 hour "Easter Parade" in April, 1949 that brought in almost 13,000 tons of supplies.
In late July 1948, the British began expanding this airfield, originally built in 1936 as a German Luftwaffe bombing school. After flying out Dakotas for a number of weeks, the British handed it over to the U.S. Airforce to fly C-54s.
In August 1948, the British moved their air operations from Fassberg to this base, originally built in 1935 for the German Luftwaffe. Only two miles from the border, pilots took great care to avoid Soviet territory in their approaches and departures.
A number of deadly crashes occurred as the frequency and intensity of the airlift increased, many due to adverse weather conditions. The USAF 18th Weather Squadron, based out of Wiesbaden, was responsible for providing around the clock weather forecasting support for the airlift.
On an off day in Berlin, Air Force Lieutenant Gail Halvorsen noticed a group of small children crowded at a fence by Tempelhof airport. He gave them some sticks of gum and promised to bring them some more candy. Halvorsen began dropping small parachutes of sweets from his plane to the growing throngs of children gathered at Tempelhof; the operation became known as "Little Vittles."
In the summer of 1948, Allies begin working on a new airport in the French sector. Forty percent of the civilian work force that built the airport were German women. In November 1948, after the destruction of a Soviet radio tower blocking flight access, Tegel opened as new landing spot for the airlift.