14 September 2012

A Hopeful Story.....

Delta  Flight 15

Here is  an amazing story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written  following 9-11:

"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, Newfoundland. 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 air crafts. 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 the 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!

"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.  As I write this  account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted  134 students in college education.

"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."

"In spite of all the rotten things  we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are  still a lot of good and Godly people in the world and when things get  bad, they will come forward.
"God  Bless America...and the Canadians."

A follow-up to this story was written by a woman that was on the plane as a passenger. She makes some corrections...worth a read, also.


 This is not my story.....I was sent this story and chose to re-print it here. 

I believe that we need hope.....it seems to be one of our basic requirements....

Let's try to remember this story as we move into the final phase of the election year.

Regardless of who you support, I suspect that you support us all, really. 

Patriotism is not a characteristic of only one party, race, religion, state, occupation, sport, academic degree, sex, hair color, or physical stature......

Patriotism is sometimes hard to spot, because there are so many distractions....

But you can see it when our National Anthem is sung by a talented voice.....the tears come, the chin quivers, the throat becomes tight.....


Because as long as there are patriots there will be hope....



  1. What an awesome story, Ellen! Love it and thanks for sharing. xx

    1. Thanks, Anne! Hope your weekend was good.....smiles!

  2. Thanks so much Ellen. Just a beautiful story. Hope is truly not lost.

    1. Oh Pam! thank you....I hope not....smiles


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment...I am grateful....smiles.