The cooperation between the World War two allies broke down in 1947. Berlin was located deep in the soviet zone of occupation. The soviet's goal was to gain control over the whole city and not to have western troops stationed there.
They frequently interrupted traffic between West Berlin and the Federal Republic of Germany. This culminated on June 24th 1948 when the soviets blocked the access to West Berlin. All traffic by train, ship or on the Autobahn was stopped on the inner german border. It marked the first day of the Berlin Blockade.
The americans and british react by ordering transport planes from all over the world to germany. They are to fly cargo into West Berlin.
The first flights carry cargo for the allied garrisons but four days after traffic into Berlin is blocked the planes also carry cargo for the Berliners.
All supplies have to be flown into the city by air. What started as a small air operation to supply the allied garrisons soon becomes a large scale airlift. Not only food but fuel and coals are flown into to the city.
For better coordination of US and British flights a Combined Airlift Task Force (CALFT) is created at Wiesbaden on October 15th.
The Britih were using Gatow Airport and even landing flying boats at the Havel River. US flights headed for Tempelhof Airport. As the Airlift had to be extended the existing airfields were not capable of handling that many flights.
The US started to build a new airfield in the french sector which later became the famous Tegel Airport. The first sortie into the new airport is flown on November 5th.
On April 16th 1949 the airlift reaches it's peak when 1.398 sorties were flown. This meant one landing per minute throughout the day.
On May 12th the soviets lift the blockade. The airlift is sustained until September to ensure the supply of the city.
There was no official nickname for the overall operation. Americans called their airlift "Operation Vittles" while the British called theirs "Plain Fare."
Today two airlift memorials remember the victims of the airlift. One is located in Berlin in front of the Tempelhof Airport. The other one is located at the Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt.