a system for transporting persons or cargo by aircraft, especially in an emergency.
the persons or cargo so transported.
the act or process of transporting such a load.
a pump for raising liquids by the pressure of air forced into the pump chamber.
to transport (persons or cargo) by airlift.
of or relating to an airlift or airlifts:
to increase the army’s airlift capacity.
Contemporary Examples

“Air refueling and airlift assets were the literal pinch I am describing here,” the official said.
First U.S. Stealth Jet Attack on Syria Cost More Than Indian Mission to Mars Dave Majumdar September 23, 2014

That was when “instinct kicked in,” said Chief Master Sergeant James Ross, a friend and fellow airman from the 152nd airlift Wing.
Nevada Teacher Mike Landsberry Survived War. He Was Killed in Class. Jacob Siegel October 22, 2013

So after a year of record killings, an ambitious rescue effort is underway to airlift the great beasts to safety.
South Africa’s Great Rhino Airlift Nina Strochlic August 16, 2014

“We don’t have any trains or direct buses,” said U.S. Marshal Pickering as he explained the airlift procedure.
Madoff Secretary Annette Bongiorno Jailed Over Ponzi Millions Allan Dodds Frank December 20, 2010

Historical Examples

How long do you think it’d take, with the equipment you have, to airlift all of Jonkvank’s loyal troops into the city?
Ullr Uprising Henry Beam Piper

An airlift of supplies dropped by parachute was being organized.
Prologue to an Analogue Leigh Richmond

The need to respond on a moment’s notice adds to the value of airlift and prepositioned ships.
Shock and Awe Harlan K. Ullman

The Soviet effort to capture Berlin by blockade was thwarted by the courageous Allied airlift.
State of the Union Addresses of Harry S. Truman Harry S. Truman

It looked as helpless as isolated Berlin did before the first airlift proved what men and planes could do in the way of transport.
Space Tug Murray Leinster

the transportation by air of passengers, troops, cargo, etc, esp when other routes are blocked
(transitive) to transport by an airlift

also air-lift, 1893 as a type of pumping device; 1945 in the sense “transportation of supplies by air,” from air (n.1) + lift (n.). As a verb by 1949; popularized in reference to the response to the West Berlin blockade. Related: Air-lifted; air-lifting.


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    a large aircraft specially designed to transport heavy cargo and to land on and take off from a relatively short runway.

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    light scattered or diffused in the air by dust, haze, etc., especially as it limits the visibility of distant, dark objects by causing them to blend with the background sky.

  • Air-line

    straight; direct; traveling a direct route: Some railroads advertise air-line routes between stations. Historical Examples Vogel’s suspicion of an air-line in the spectrum of Vesta has, accordingly, not been confirmed. A Popular History of Astronomy During the Nineteenth Century Agnes M. (Agnes Mary) Clerke Tupelo is about forty miles south of Rienzi, on an air-line. […]

  • Airline

    straight; direct; traveling a direct route: Some railroads advertise air-line routes between stations. Aeronautics. a system furnishing air transport, usually scheduled, between specified points. the airplanes, airports, etc., of such a system. Often, airlines. a company that owns or operates such a system. a direct line; beeline. an airhose used to pipe air to a […]

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