Gilmer ‘Candy Bomber’ event brings fifth graders historical treat

You may have heard the term “Pennies from Heaven.” Well, this morning it was candy from an aircraft in Upshur County.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 12:56 PM CDT
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GILMER, Texas (KLTV) - You may have heard the term “Pennies from Heaven.” Well, this morning it was candy from an aircraft in Upshur County. The event held at Fox Stephens Field was to commemorate Gail Halvorsen’s supply and candy drops to the people of Berlin at the end of WWII.

Yes, it was raining candy from the sky at Fox Stephens Field Airport in Upshur County, but let’s back up since that hadn’t happened yet. First, Gilmer ISD fifth graders, like Max Johnson, got up close and personal with some private aircraft.

“Well, I’m kind of a plane nerd but only not quite civilian aircraft, but you know, World War II and stuff like that,” Max said.

And, in his social studies class, he had learned about Gail Halvorsen’s supply drops.

“They got that candy received from the plane. You know, because they had basically nothing,” Max said.

So, after a bit of plane perusal something special was about to happen. Max’s teacher was set to join the pilot as the plane took off, and that prospect only heightened the excitement for the students.

“It’s going to be crazy,” Max said.

Pilot Steven Youngblood was taking her in his 1966 Cherokee 140. Youngblood said he hasn’t flown for this event before.

“Not at this event. I was here last year, but I didn’t fly. Hopefully this year we’ll have a good time,” Youngblood said.

Gilmer Math Teacher Cecelia Bradley had previously only been in commercial aircraft. She said she was both excited and a little concerned about going up in the aircraft.

Even so, with a thumbs up, they took off and were up there somewhere. Her student Max looked a bit envious. The ride was short but sweet.

Bradley said she recognized familiar places down below.

“I did see the school. I saw my car! It was really tiny, but I saw it,” Bradley said.

Max took a positive outlook on the fact that his teacher beat him to the experience.

“Well, it only matters that she had a great time, then I’m happy,” Max said.

That’s pretty sporting of Max, especially considering the pilot, Steven, is his cousin. Max will get a turn sooner or later.

After a quick airshow, it was showtime and the drop was made. As far as getting candy, “I got a plan,” said Max.

The plan? Run like a kid after candy. And, as some said back in 1966 when Youngblood’s plane was made, that’s my bag, baby.

This was the tenth annual event for the Candy Bomber. Steve Dean said as long as there are fifth graders, he will hold the event.

KLTV’s Jamey Boyum talks with Candy Bomber Run Founder Steve Dean about his annual recreation, held in memory of Gail Halvorsen.