the story of Spork (and Rosinenbomber)

by Sirje

Yesterday, I posted a photo of this very large sculpture, above, but less creepy in yesterday’s photo, which is on the grounds of now-closed Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. I finally got around to asking a German what it is meant to represent, and, shockingly, it is NOT meant to represent a giant spork, which is a much-underused spoon-fork hybrid useful for when you have to eat beans and then pudding immediately afterwards.

It is actually one part of a memorial, the other parts of which are in Wietzenbruch and Rhein-Main, commemorating the amazing pilots of the Luftbrücke, or Air Bridge a/k/a Berlin Airlift during the beginning years of the Cold War when the Soviets cut off supply transport to West Berlin. To help out the West Berliners who had only about a month or two of supplies left, “Operation Vittles” (and no, I did not make that up, they really called it that) was kicked off by mostly British and US troops, who flew transport planes through the British and American flight corridors, loaded with supplies and food (milk, flour, medicine, etc).

After just the first month of the airlift, they were up to 1,500 planes PER DAY — one every few minutes – and 5,000 tons of supplies. For two years! Pilots flew in, engines off, supplies unloaded, have a snack, back in the air. Oh and if you missed your first landing attempt in Berlin, you had to fly all the way back to where you came from, no Currywurst for you. This is all the more remarkable if you ever happen to have seen the landing strip: it was super tiny! It required some serious nerve to fly in a big supply plane.

It’s also important to mention “Uncle Wiggly Wings.” YES THAT’S REALLY HIS NAME. Ok his real name was Gail Halvorsen. Uncle Wiggly Wings was the guy who brought candy to the children, the original Rosinenbomber or Raisin Bomber. The children would know it was a candy delivery because Uncle Wiggly Wings would wiggle his wings back and forth on approach, naturally.

It’s fascinating history. You can read more about it here at the Wikipedia page.