Jersey Shore

The Workhorse of the Berlin Airlift - the C54

Captain Tim is ready to fly his C-54. After receiving the classic Coke from a fan, Tim was unable to throw back his flight suit. Only Mean Joe Greene could make that photo op work. Credits: Erich Templin
The Spirit of Freedom takes part in a reemactment of a state visit. She was commonly used by civilian and military officials to travel. Credits: Erich Templin
The C-54 taxying on the tarmac at the Reading Airport. Credits: Erich Templin
The cockpit of the C-54. Hey, what is that on the center console? Credits: Erich Templin
Oh! This one has been upgraded. Credits: Erich Templin
The engineer of the C-97 enjoys the shade under the C-54. He had to make the call of the aborted flight of the C-97. Credits: Erich Templin

TAPintoTravels - For nearly 30 years, the Farmingdale, N.J.-based Berlin Airlift Foundation has devoted itself to preserving the legacy of the 1948-49 humanitarian effort.

Nowhere is the work more prominent than with its Spirit of Freedom, a fully restored Douglas C-54 which contains inside its fuselage a museum filled with artifacts and information about the airlift.

That plane is still a regular at air shows across the country, including one this weekend in South Carolina and attended by BAF founder and president Tim Chopp. 

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It is one of 330 C-54s which did the lion's share of work during the airlift, and is painted to represent the 48th Troop Carrier Squadron, one of the many groups who participated.

Chopp jokes that "there is a very fine line between dedication and stupidity" in the group's ceaseless effort to maintain the airlift's aging planes.

But that effort is appreciated by those who served and, especially, Germany: In 2011, Chopp was presented with that country's prestigious Cross of the Order of Merit by its ambassador.

For more information about the foundation, go to their homepage.

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