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Remarkable Story.

Community Veteran
Posts: 18,544
Thanks: 190
Registered: 12-08-2007

Remarkable Story.

  Out of tragedy so much happiness.  Long read but worth it.

A REMARKABLE STORY.....With a VERY special ending
    From a retired Delta Employee.
    An interesting story about one flight during September 11th.
    Amazing Story of Delta Flight 15
    Written by a flight attendant.
    "On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of
    Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic. All of a sudden the
    curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to
    see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had
    that "All Business" look on their faces. The captain handed me a
    printed message. It was from Delta's main office in Atlanta and simply
    read, "All airways over the Continental United States are closed to
    commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your
    destination."
    No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a
    serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The
    captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in
    Gander, New Foundland. He requested approval for a route change from
    the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted
    immediately--no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why
    there was no hesitation in approving our request.
    While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another
    message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity
    in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the
    hijackings.
    We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We
    told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed
    to land at the nearest airport in Gander, New Foundland to have it
    checked out.
    We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There
    was much grumbling among the passengers, but that's nothing new! Forty
    minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM!
    . . .. that's 11:00 AM EST.
    There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all
    over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the U.S.
    After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following
    announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all
    these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have.
    The reality is that we are here for another reason." Then he went on
    to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the U.S.
    There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed
    passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.
    The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was
    allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to
    come near any of the aircraft. Only airport police would come around
    periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next
    hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes
    from all over the world, 27 of which were U.S. commercial jets.
    Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and
    for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the
    World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC. People
    were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due
    to a different cell system in Canada. Some did get through, but were
    only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the
    lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.
    Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade
    Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had
    resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and
    physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed
    amazingly calm. We had only to look out the window at the 52 other
    stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this
    predicament.
    We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the
    planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our
    turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning. Passengers were not
    happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much
    noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the
    airplane.
    Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and
    lavatory servicing. And they were true to their word. Fortunately we
    had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who
    was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The
    night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping
    arrangements.
    About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed
    up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went
    through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red
    Cross.
    After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were
    taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers
    were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has
    a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to
    take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander! We
    were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when
    the U.S. airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a
    while.
    We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after
    getting to our hotel and turning on the TV . . . 24 hours after it all
    started.
    Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people
    of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the "plane
    people." We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and
    ended up having a pretty good time.
    Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander
    airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and
    found out what they had been doing for the past two days. What we
    found out was incredible.
    Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75
    Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges,
    and any other large gathering places. They converted all these
    facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some
    had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.
    ALL high school students were required to volunteer their time to take
    care of the "guests." Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called
    Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in
    a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility,
    that was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly
    passengers were taken to private homes.
    Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home
    right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was
    a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the
    crowd for the duration.
    Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were
    available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were
    offered "Excursion" trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the
    lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local
    bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests. Food was
    prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were
    driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals.
    Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their
    clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words,
    every single need was met for those stranded travelers.
    Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when
    they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to
    the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or
    late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the
    whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they
    needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated
    everything beautifully. It was absolutely incredible.
    When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise.
    Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their
    stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight
    back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just
    stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling. Passengers had totally
    bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging
    phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.
    And then a very unusual thing happened. One of our passengers
    approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA
    system. We never, ever allow that.. But this time was different. I
    said "of course" and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and
    reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last
    few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the
    hands of total strangers. He continued by saying that he would like to
    do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.
    He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15
    (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide
    college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He
    asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the
    paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone
    numbers and addresses, the total was for more than 14,000 dollars!
    The gentleman, a MD from Virginia, promised to match the donations and
    to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that
    he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to
    donate as well.
    I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right
    now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a
    far away place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on
    them. It reminds me how much good there is in the world."
    This trust fund is now at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134
    students in college education.

1 REPLY
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,333
Thanks: 607
Registered: 23-09-2010

Re: Remarkable Story.

Very interesting story.
I'd never given a thought before to what happened to all those planes that were on route to America on that day.