Tuesday, July 27, 2021
 
 
Candy Bomber May Be 100 But He’s Still Dropping Candy
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While Wood River High School football players handed out candy on the ground during Sunday’s parade, Candy Bomber Gail Halvorsen is still dropping candy from above.
   
Monday, July 5, 2021
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

It was 10 years ago that Ret. U.S. Air Force Gail Halvorsen dropped candy bars tied to parachutes from a vintage plane cruising over Quigley Canyon.

The reenactment had been arranged by Dr. Tom Crais in honor of the Hailey Armory and attracted hundreds of onlookers. Among them, Ketchum resident Ellen Gillespie who caught a parachute on behalf of her father who saw Halvorsen drop the candy as a 10-year-old growing up in East Berlin but was not able to snag a piece.

Halvorsen was back in the skies on the Fourth at age 100—this time over the Dixie State University stadium in St. George, Utah, in a helicopter. One of the first German children to get a stick of gum from Halvorsen—at age 3—was there to honor Halvorsen with a plaque—and a pack of gum.

Halvorsen was one of hundreds of American, English and French pilots who took part in a huge U.S. airlift that saved two million Germans from starvation after the Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin to take it away from western Allies.

Halvorsen, who turns 101 in October, flew planeload after planeload of flour and coal. But even more memorable were the drops of 23 tons of candy that he and his fellow pilots made. Halvorsen, who grew up in Utah, got the idea after giving a few sticks of gum to children he spotted watching the pilots through the fence at Berlin’s Tempelhof Air Force Base in Berlin.

He promised to return the next day with more and ended up dropping 23 tons of candy provided by Hershey and candy manufacturers from five other countries between July 1948 and September 1949.

He was nicknamed Uncle Wiggly Wings by the Berlin children because of the way he wiggled his aircraft wings upon approaching Berlin’s airport to let them know it was a candy drop.

"He's the closest thing to a real fairytale hero--yet not a fairytale at all. To have candy falling from the sky during such dark times is such a rainbow thought," said Hailey resident Geegee Lowe.


 

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