In Berlin the terrifying sound of massed bombers overhead followed by multiple explosions was to be substituted just three years later, but now for humanitarian reasons by the loud continuous roar of high revving piston engines pulling at full power. The air was saturated by the sound, which continued constantly throughout the night and the day all over the city, and at its height during the Berlin Airlift planes were taking off and landing every 90-seconds. The sky was filled with transport aircraft. The airlift lasted from June 24, 1948 to May 12, 1949. A total of 692 aircraft participated, of which 102 were C-47s, but they were eventually withdrawn due to the slanting floor which caused long unloading times. Aircraft carried over two million tons of food, coal, fuel and other vital supplies to Berlin’s 2.2 million inhabitants, making 270,000 flights involving the larger four engined C-54 Skymasters and many other types including converted bombers and some sea planes. During the entire operation 17 American and 7 British planes were lost due to crashes. A missed approach meant returning to your base airfield to try again. To add to the pilots difficulties many were dangerously harried by very close encounters by hostile Russian Mig 15 fighters.

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~ by starflight on July 9, 2009.

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