1999 Hall of Fame Recipient
Late RAF Air Commodore R.N. Waite (1901-1975)
Conceived Berlin Airlift
The Berlin Airlift will be recorded in history as the greatest air cargo performance in the exciting story of aviation. For seventeen months the entire western sector of Berlin was supplied by air. All coal, fuel oil, medicine, flour and basic foods were flown into the besieged city. Much of the credit for this performance has accrued to the Americans. But the unsung hero of the Berlin Airlift was Air Commodore R.N. Waite C.B., CBE., RAF., who was Director, Air Branch of the British Control Commission in Germany. Air Commodore Waite, a career RAF officer had followed the retreating German forces through France into Germany. Upon the surrender he assumed the responsibility of disarming the Luftwaffe in the British zone of occupation. Once this was accomplished and the job completed, he became head of the Air Branch for the Control Commission in Berlin. It was in this role that he faced the blockade of West Berlin by the Russians and formulated his original plan to supply Berlin by air. At first rebuffed, he then prepared a more detailed plan for consideration, which Gen. Sir Brian Robertson took to Lucius Clay General in Command of US Forces in Europe. Clay referred it to president Harry Truman with his enthusiastic endorsement. Truman not only approved it but ordered the newly independent U.S. Air Force to allocate its entire transport capability to this task. With Truman's instant approval and the full cooperation of both British and American governments the Airlift was launched. The unique British/American partnership, which made the airlift a success and created history, was conceived and brought to life by the vision and perseverance of Air Commodore R.N. Waite. TIACA honors him for that outstanding performance and elects him to the Air Cargo Hall of Fame.