70 YEARS AIRLIFT

70 years after the Airlift, the Raisin Bombers in Berlin can only be seen in the sky. In the afternoon they flew over the city.

Berlin. Around 3 p.m. the time had come: the formation of historic Raisin Bombers was slowly approaching. Several hundred people gathered at the former airfield of the Military History Museum in Gatow in the afternoon and waited for the planes to fly over. When they finally flew over the airfield, the spectators reacted enthusiastically. Cameras were pulled out, people waved at the pilots, one even held up a tape recorder to capture the loud noise of the machines.

“I found it very impressive,” said Monika Knobloch, who is currently visiting Berlin from Nuremberg and did not miss the opportunity to witness the overflight of the raisin bombers. “I imagined how the Raisin Bombers came to supply Berlin back then. It was really moving.” Especially one plane, which flew a little lower over the museum and a Raisin Bomber permanently exhibited there, caused enthusiasm among the spectators.

Good view of Raisin Bombers on Tempelhof Field
Before the planes reached Gatow, they had already crossed Tegel and the former Tempelhof airport. Many people were impressed there as well. On Tempelhof Field, so-called “Plan Spotters” had also been waiting for the overflight – people who are specifically involved in observing and photographing aircraft. Only a few hundred metres separated the spectators on the field from the raisin bombers in the air, which were clearly visible for several minutes. After their round over Berlin, the planes flew on towards Schönefeld and later Erfurt.

The fact that the raisin bombers were not allowed to land in the city, however, caused incomprehension among some. Observers reported after the event that the subject had been discussed several times at the airfield in Gatow. The Airlift 70 Association, which organized the overflight and all events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Airlift last week, would have liked to have landed at the former Tempelhof Airport. However, no support was received from the Senate, said Thomas Keller, the association’s chairman. The Senate had commemorated the Airlift with its own celebration on May 12 and pointed out that a landing of the raisin bombers at Tempelhof was not possible for legal reasons.

Flight of the Raisin Bombers in Berlin marks the end of the commemoration ceremonies
The raisin bombers’ flight over Berlin marked the end of the events commemorating the Airlift. During the blockade of West Berlin from June 26, 1948 to May 12, 1949, the Western Allies had supplied the more than two million inhabitants of the divided city by aircraft. There had been almost 280,000 flights at that time to bring food and other goods into the city. To mark the anniversary of the Airlift, almost 20 international raisin bombers, including some from the USA, returned to Germany.

Since Whit Monday, the Airlift 70 association had already organized events in Wiesbaden (Hesse), Jagel (Schleswig-Holstein), Faßberg and Nordholz (both in Lower Saxony). The airlift had taken place there. In all these cities the raisin bombers had now landed once again – even if some of the plans had to be changed at short notice. Due to the weather, departures from Wiesbaden had to be postponed, and arrivals in the other cities were delayed accordingly. At least as far as that was concerned, Berlin did not cause any problems: The weather on Sunday was fine.