I've already nominated one of these but I was reading a book last night and I came across a brief mention of the Berlin Airlift and I thought it deserved a mention (Even though technically it wasn't a "moment" but a period in excess of a year).
Why does it deserve a mention? Because a city of over two million people (And the British, American and French occupation forces) was kept alive for over a year, solely through a non-stop procession of aircraft hauling supplies through three air corridors.
In June of 1948 the USSR cut off access to Berlin, which was deep inside the Soviet controlled zone of Germany, they had no access to food or coal (Which was vital for the upcoming winter). The estimated needs of the city are as follows -
It was determined that the city's daily food ration would be 646
tons of flour and wheat; 125 tons of cereal; 64 tons of fat; 109
tons of meat and fish; 180 tons of dehydrated potatoes; 180 tons of
sugar; 11 tons of coffee; 19 tons of powdered milk; 5 tons of whole
milk for children; 3 tons of fresh yeast for baking; 144 tons of
dehydrated vegetables; 38 tons of salt; and 10 tons of cheese.
In total, 1,534 tons were needed daily to keep the over 2 million
people alive. That's not including other necessities, like coal
At their peak the joint RAF and USAF operation delivered 12,941 tonnes of coal in one day over 1383 flights, at one point a USAF groundcrew unloaded 10 tonnes of coal from a C-54 Skymaster in less than six minutes. In total, over fifteen months the USAF delivered almost 1.8 million tonnes and the RAF 0.55 million tonnes. These figures are remarkable but they came at the price of 101 fatalities, though in the end the Soviets realised their blockade wasn't working and relented.
It's not particularly spectacular or glamorous in the fact that no records were broken or no shots were fired but I can't help but think about how truly incredible it was, an entire city was saved because of aviation.
All of the facts and figures above were taken from www.spiritoffreedom.org and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Blockade, they're both interesting reads and I'd recommend a visit.
My wings are like a shield of steel.