Speir, A. "The Berlin Airlift, 1948-9" The Military History Journal of The South African Military History Society. Vol 11 No 2. Available at: samilitaryhistory.org [Accessed on 30 September 2013]| Britannica Berlin blockade and airlift [online] Available at: www.britannica.com [Accessed on 30 September 2013]
30 September 1949
The Berlin Airlift, which delivered food and fuel to West Berliners during a Soviet blockade, and in which the SAA took part, comes to an end The Berlin Airlift dubbed, 'Operation Vittles,' carried out 300 000 flights and transported two million tons of supplies during the 406 days of the airlift. Some 441 American aircraft were used in total and they carried over three-quarters of the entire load into Berlin. At the commencement of the Airlift, many countries of the British Commonwealth, including South Africa, offered their assistance. These Commonwealth countries provided crews to fly RAF aircraft. South Africa sent ten complete Dakota crews, who flew for almost the whole period of the Airlift alongside their RAF colleagues. During this time South African air crews carried out a distinguished and accident free record of service. The Soviet blockade of Berlin was finally lifted at one minute after midnight, on 12 May 1949, and the first great standoff of the Cold War was over. Flights continued for some time, though, to build a comfortable surplus. By 24 July 1949, a three-month surplus was built-up, ensuring that the airlift could be re-started with ease if needed. The Berlin Airlift officially ended on 30 September 1949, after fifteen months.