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Candy Bomber Activity: Berlin Airlift

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
Parts of two class periods.
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
The daring activities of Gail Halvorsen will be presented in class. Students will then be asked to formulate a plan to create and hopefully implement their own service activity.

The daring activities of Gail Halvorsen will be presented in class.  Students will then be asked to formulate a plan to create and hopefully implement their own service activity.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

Gail Halvorsen provided the epitome of selflessness, as he became the Candy Bomber during the Berlin Airlift.  This service activity for betterment of humanity is a spirit that is desirable to instill in the youth of our society.  In addition to addressing American and World History content standards, the goals of the social studies is to instill virtuous civic responsibility in our students.

Lesson Objectives - the student will

Students will develop a service activity to benefit their local community.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

MO Standards: 

2aD-Describe and evaluate the evolution of the United States domestic and foreign policy including the Cold War.

2bG-Examine the wars of the 20th century, including:  causes, comparisons, consequences, and peace efforts.

3B-Compare and contrast governmental systems, current and historical, including those that are democratic and totalitarian.

7B-Distinguish between primary and secondary sources.

Kansas Standards

Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).

1. (K) explains why the United States emerged as a superpower as the result of World War II.

2.(A) analyzes the origins of the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the Soviet Bloc, Mao’s victory in China, Marshall Plan, Berlin Blockade, Iron Curtain).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed

Map of the city of Berlin-


Map of the flight corridor during the Berlin Airlift-

Berlin airlift


Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed


Halvorsen, Gail S.  The Berlin Candy Bomber.  Springville, UT:  Horizon Publishers, 1997.

Airlift Photographs -

Documents Concerning the Berlin Airlift -

Berlin Airlift Cartoons-

Chocolate Flyer Photographs -


Technology Required

Primary and secondary sources may be acquired via the Internet. 



The Berlin Airlift and the Candy Bombers

Background to the Berlin Airlift



*How many zones of occupation was Germany divided into?


*Why was Truman considered “soft” on communism?


*Besides economic security for the German people, what advantage to the United States would a “Trizone” create?


*What motivations did the Soviet Union have for pursuing a Berlin blockade?

 From the Director of the CIA

Read Director of the CIA R. H. Hillenkoetter’s memorandum to President Truman found here.  Answer the following question.


*How accurate is Hillenkoetter’s prediction in his letter to President Truman?


 On the Lighter Side

View some of the cartoons drawn by Staff Sergeant Jake Schuffert found here.  Answer the following questions.

*What were Jake Schuffert’s motivations for drawing his cartoons?


*Choose one cartoon and describe what view Schuffert was trying to express.

The Candy Bomber

Read the website and watch the video on Gail Halvorsen to answer the following questions.  

*What were Gail Halvorsen’s motivations for beginning the candy bombing raids?

*Many of the same pilots that delivered supplies in the Berlin Airlift had bombed Germany during World War II.  How could the pilots change their attitude about the German people in such a short period of time?

*Would have Gail Halvorsen’s superiors supported his efforts if he had asked permission prior to the candy bombing raids?

*What lasting impact did the Berlin Airlift and candy bombing raids have on history?


*How did the Berlin Airlift support Truman’s policy of containment?

*How might have Truman’s handling of the blockade lead to greater tension in the Cold War?

*Do you agree with Truman’s handling of the Berlin Blockade?  Explain.

Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

This lesson will be introduced in the Cold War unit when the Berlin Blockade and Berlin Airlift is addressed.  As the airlift is discussed, students will be provided access to the primary and secondary sources listed above.  Most important are the personal film footage of Gail Halvorsen and his detailing of becoming the Candy Bomber and “Uncle Wiggly Wings.”  Students will gain an insight to the personal sacrifices necessary to develop a service mindset.

Following the presentation on the Berlin Airlift and the Candy Bomber, students will be asked to fill out the attached reflection worksheet.  Once the sheet has been filled out, a class discussion will be used to have students share their viewpoints and ideas for service programs.</