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Gail S. Halvorsen papers

Identifier: MSS 2220

Scope and Contents

Contains letters, emails, photographs, video and audio recordings, awards, ephemera and other memorabilia from the personal collection of Gail S. Halvorsen. Most of the material is directly related to his role as the "Candy Bomber" during the Berlin Airlift, which he continued to receive recognition for long after the end of the blockade. Included are items relating to his military career after the Berlin Airlift, including material on the Cold War, his retirement activities, his family, and his missionary service for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England and Russia. Materials were created largely in Germany and the United States, with some in Russia and England. Includes letters, articles, papers, and video and audio recordings in German and Russian. There are 7,033 photographs, many with negatives, included in the collection. Materials are dated 1905 to 2018, with the bulk between 1920 and 2018.


  • 1905-2018
  • Majority of material found within 1920-2018


Language of Materials

Materials in English, with some materials in German and Russian.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Gail S. Halvorsen papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Halvorsen retains all rights to the materials except to allow them to be used in research. Proper credit must be given to the author when cited.

Biographical History

Gail S. Halvorsen (1920- ) is a pilot, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a local ecclesiastical leader in Arizona and Utah.

Gail Seymour Halvorsen was born on October 10, 1920 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was raised on farms in Utah and Idaho, and at age 21 earned a private pilot license under the non-college Civilian Pilot Training program in September 1941. After joining the United States Army Air Corps in June 1942, he was assigned to the South Atlantic Theater as a pilot flying transport operations.

After World War II he flew in the Berlin Airlift, where he became known as "Uncle Wiggly Wings", the "Chocolate Flyer", and the "Berlin Candy Bomber" after dropping candy attached to parachutes to the children of blockaded Berlin. His actions sparked interest in the United States, and individuals and groups all over the country donated candy and handkerchief parachutes to be given to Berlin children. He returned to the United States in January of 1949, five months before the end of the blockade.

After his return home he married Alta Jolley, with whom he later had five children, on April 16, 1949. He earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in aeronautical engineering at the University of Florida, finishing in 1952. Halvorsen graduated from Air Command and Staff College in 1958. He was assigned to the Air Force Space Systems Division and then the Foreign Technology Division of Air Force Systems Command working at air force bases around America and Germany. He served at Vandenberg Tracking Station in California working on the Dyna Soar missile project and the Titan III Space Launch Vehicle until 1970, when he moved back to Berlin with his family to serve as commander of Tempelhof Central Airport from 1970-1974.

Colonel Halvorsen retired from the military in 1974, when he moved to Provo and took a position as the Dean of Student Life at Brigham Young University until 1984. He served missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his wife, Alta Halvorsen, in the England South Mission from 1986-1987, and in the St. Petersburg Russia Mission from 1995-1997. Throughout his retirement he has traveled extensively for numerous speaking events and candy drops, largely around the United States.

Gail and Alta Halvorsen had twenty-four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Alta passed away on January 21, 1999. Gail Halvorsen is now married to Lorraine Pace, who has three children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


97 boxes (52.5 linear ft.)

26 cartons (26 linear ft.)

8 media boxes (3.6 linear ft.)

49 oversize boxes (49.25 linear ft.)

2 film reels (0.2 linear ft.)

6 oversize folders (1.3 linear ft.)

2 microfilm boxes (0.5 linear ft.)

3 items (2.7 linear ft.)


Collection arranged in three series: 1. Gail S. Halvorsen correspondence, 1943-2017. 2. Gail S. Halvorsen audio-visual recordings, papers, and artifacts, 1920-2018. 3. Gail S. Halvorsen photographs, slides, and films, 1905-2017.

Custodial History

Donated by Gail Halvorsen in 2000.

Donated by Gail Halvorsen in 2004.

Donated by Gail Halvorsen in 2016.

Donated by Gail Halvorsen in 2017.

Letters from Gail to Alta donated by Denise Halvorsen Williams in 2017.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Gail S. Halvorsen; four installments, 2000-2017.

Donated; Denise Halvorsen Williams; 2017.


Utah and American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (20th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy, 5.VII, 2007).

Processing Information

Processed; Katie Connors and John Murphy; 2008.

Addendum added and organized into series; Trevor Tanner; 2016.

Collection re-organized and re-housed; Carol Allred, Corinne Bird, Elizabeth Chatterly; 2018.

Collection record corrected, collection finalized; Amanda Crandall; 2018.

Collection record corrected and completed; Anne Ashton; 2020.

  • Three cartons of books, periodicals, and DVDs pertaining to Gail Halvorsen's career in the Air Force, German Tourist publications, and histories of Germany as well as the United States Air Force. Also one map in an oversize folder.
  • 20 large 16mm reels 1 med 16mm reel 30 small 16mm reels 9 8mm reels 68 tiny 8mm reels Slide projector Irrelevant/duplicate VHSs, CDs, DVDs Family slides Scrapbooks in white binders (2) Empty reel cases Brown metal box held reels Papers (duplicates and irrelevant to collection) Family negatives Photographs (duplicates and family) Stack of blank scrapbook and blank materials Ephemera: Candy Bomber book, flag-pendant Films are of family vacations. Papers are either duplicates of material already in collection, or papers not relevant to collection. Photographs, negatives, and slides are either of family, are duplicates, or are ones copies from photographs in collection (requested by Denise). CDs and DVDs are duplicates or widely available media. LPs are music not relevant to collection. Cassette tapes are of family vacations or events. White binders are the scrapbooks made by Denise about her father, which was copied for the collection. Also included is: slide projector, extra materials, empty reel cases, and an extra Candy Bomber book.
  • Gail Halvorsen's 16mm movie camera and three lenses.
Register of Gail S. Halvorsen papers
In Progress
Katie Connors; Trevor Tanner; Eric Wolford; Carol Allred, Corinne Bird, and Elizabeth Chatterley; Amanda Crandall; Anne Ashton
2008 September 11
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States