Northern Neck-Middle Peninsula (NN-MP) VAHS Chapter —Quarterly Report—First Quarter, 2020
Nancy Miller, NN-MP Chapter Program Coordinator & VAHS Board Member
The Chapter’s January/February/March 2020 presentations featured:
- “3rd Annual NN-MP Chapter Show & Tell”—Attendees brought fascinating books, keepsakes, memorabilia and aeronautical antiques and shared their related compelling stories—from gliders to aviation tomes the sky was the limit, and the participatory session has become a January tradition for the Chapter;
- “The Fabulous C-130”—Wes Werling, Air Force C-130 Pilot, attracted a new audience segment and wowed the expanded group in attendance with his first-hand experiences, sparking corresponding tales from the audience, many directly acquainted with the C-130 as pilots or ground crew—this session was truly “greater than the sum of its parts;” and,
- “The Candy Bomber & The Berlin Airlift”—At 99 years of age, (Ret.) Air Force Col. Gail S. Halvorsen was recently inducted into the First Flight Society’s Hall of Fame in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 2019. The Chapter’s March program featured a DVD that profiles Halvorsen’s creative but unorthodox gesture of goodwill during the Berlin Airlift, 1948-49; an impulse that initiated candy drops to the children of Berlin via improvised handkerchief “parachutes.”
Initially an “unauthorized” activity by Halvorsen and a few of the airlift pilots, the candy-drop practice spread and was eventually recognized and (surprisingly) approved by the officer in charge, Gen. William Tunner. (Tunner is generally acknowledged as the “father” of military airlift operations, and at retirement he became a resident of Gloucester County, where he lived until his death in 1965).
The candy-drops, dubbed “Little Vittles,” grew into a program within the Berlin Airlift that boosted morale among the airlift pilots, the isolated and destitute population of post-WWII Russian-held Berlin, and the supporting candy-drop network that grew in the United States.
The C-54 “Spirit of Freedom” aircraft that visited Shannon Air Museum in the Fall of 2019 actually flew in the Berlin Airlift and is now a flying museum that chronicles that Airlift. The “Spirit of Freedom” also displays artifacts and memorabilia that relate to the “Little Vittles” candy-drops and recognizes the inspiration of Col. Halvorsen, the original “Candy Bomber.” With the visit of the historic aircraft and the national Hall of Fame recognition for Halvorsen, the timing is right for the Chapter’s “Candy Bomber” March 2020 program.
Other General NN-MP Chapter & Society Notes:
–In the true spirit of the VAHS mission, the regional Chapters endeavor to secure and present interesting and important aviation history programs throughout the year. All of the VAHS Chapters’ contact information is listed in this newsletter; we encourage you to use it to secure details on upcoming programs and make plans to attend. Please join us at the next Chapter meeting near you, and bring a friend!
As always, the Northern Neck-Middle Peninsula Chapter meets the third Thursday of each month, at 11:30 am, in the Pilot House Restaurant, adjacent to Hummel Airport, Topping, Virginia. All meetings are open to the public—so join us for lunch and a stimulating presentation!
—And a reminder about a few easy ways YOU can help promote the VAHS:
- Suggest to your local newspaper that the VAHS can be profiled in a short article, including information on how to join the Society. All of the VAHS office contact information is located inside the front cover of this newsletter; all you have to do is pass that information along!
- If you have a special aviation event coming up—let us know. The VAHS has attractive new materials and light-weight display banners that are easy-to-transport and set up! Simply contact the VAHS Office Manager, Sue Baker, to give the date of your event and check on availability of the VAHS materials and display, (540) 376-3265 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Gift Memberships–The VAHS is eager to reach new members to enhance and sustain our aviation history audience—our life-blood. Give a friend or student a gift membership today!