Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Today, as we remember 9/11...

Let's not forget that all American airspace was closed for several days. This meant that all planes flying to the States from Europe were suddenly diverted to Canada. Airports in Canada's major cities were overwhelmed, but for the airport in little Gander, Newfoundland, it provoked a miracle of kindness.

Gander was a town of 10,000 residents with two police officers. Its airport usually received only eight domestic flights each day. On September 11, 2001, 39 airliners carrying 6,579 passengers landed rapidly, one-after-another. Most passengers didn't know why their flight was diverted until after they landed. All had to spend that first night trying to sleep on their plane as 9-11 news trickled in. Little did they know it would be four days until American airspace reopened, but outside the airport, the people of Gander were opening their hearts.
As one flight attendant recalls, "Gander and surrounding communities had closed all high schools and meeting halls, converting them into mass lodging areas. Some had cots or mats and sleeping bags with pillows all set up, and high school students were required to care for their 'guests.' A convoy of school busses showed up at the side of our plane and passengers were taken to the terminal for processing. Our 218 passengers stayed at a high school in Lewisport. Families were kept together, while the elderly were taken to private homes. Food was prepared by local residents and brought to the schools. Bakeries stayed open late, making fresh bread for 'the plane people.' Every need was met for these unfortunate travelers. When they came back onboard,  passengers cried while telling of the kindness they received. Everyone knew everyone else by name and exchanged phone numbers and email addresses."

But the passengers on this flight did not forget the people of Gander, as you'll see if you watch the heartwarming 5-minute video linked here.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJskIhGbDq4

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