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dstan Feb 28, 10 12:42 am

NBC: Brokaw Feature on Gander, Newfoundland after 9/11/01
This afternoon during its Vancouver Olympics coverage, NBC aired a 45 min feature by Tom Brokaw on the town and residents of Gander, Newfoundland. Unfortunately, I cannot find it online, and I can only hope that it will appear somewhere, but it's too good a story not to share for lack of a link. I'll try to summarize:

Gander is a small town of 10,000 residents in northeastern Newfoundland. The town has two stoplights and two police officers, and the people are largely descendants of Scots and Irish, living in an often harsh, rural environment. Once a refueling stop for transatlantic flights, Gander also happens to have a large airport and houses a key Nav Canada air traffic control center. While the advent of the jumbo jet made stops at Gander obsolete, that all changed on Sept 11, 2001.

Following the attacks of that day, air traffic was grounded across N. America. As a result, some 167 westbound transatlantic flights that had passed the halfway point were redirected to airports around Newfoundland and the Maritime provinces, all controlled by Gander center. The Arrivals sector staffing was quickly increased from its normal three controllers to 14 to reroute all of the aircraft over a seven hour period. Gander International Airport (CYQX/YQX), which normally handles 8 domestic flights per day, received 38 aircraft, many jumbo jets, parked around the taxiways with nearly 7,000 passengers. Processing immigration for all of these passengers took over 24 hours, with the last passengers finally entering the airport terminal at noon on Wed, Sep 12.

Subsequently, Gander needed to absorb this near doubling of its population. With little notice, the residents of Gander responded with incredible kindness and generosity. Passengers were bused to schools, churches, and legion halls where temporary shelters were set up (Gander has only 500 hotel beds). The locals rushed to meet them with home cooked meals and other necessities. As the passengers were not allowed to access their checked baggage, residents donated clothes and opened their shops free of charge. Prescriptions were filled by the two local pharmacies at no cost. Residents opened their homes to these stranded travelers. “Everybody just put everything on hold to take care of us.”

Four days later, U.S. airspace reopened and the passengers continued onto their original destinations. However, many lasting friendships were forged over that short period, thanks to the kindness of the Ganderites. With the residents refusing to accept monetary thanks, the passengers of Delta flight 15 established a college scholarship fund for local students; from $15,000 pledged on the flight from Gander to Atlanta, the fund has now grown to nearly $900,000. Several passengers featured in the piece have returned to visit their friends in Gander, and a monument now stands there in honor of their generosity.

Bravo to the residents of Gander and the surrounding area. ^

mudba Feb 28, 10 1:41 pm

I thought it was great, but I'm annoyed that NBC does not have it online for replay

skylady Feb 28, 10 2:11 pm

Thank you for that amazing story.

LeSabre74 Feb 28, 10 2:18 pm

Many Canadian towns and cities opened their hearts that day. Here's a shot of YVR:

dstan Feb 28, 10 2:21 pm

Originally Posted by skylady (Post 13482683)
Thank you for that amazing story.

For skylady and other AA folks, it's also worth mentioning that Capt. Beverley Bass, the first female captain at a major airline, is featured in the piece, as she was flying AA49 CDG-DFW that day. :)

I found some additional articles on the Gander Intl Airport website:

CPRich Feb 28, 10 6:21 pm

I agree, it was a very well done story, and quite lengthy and in-depth for a "human interest story" in the middle of the Olympics. It would be very unfortunate if it's not made available on-line.

clacko Feb 28, 10 6:32 pm

iirc, gander was very busy during ww2.....9/11 was probably the 2nd busiest period for them....

dstan Feb 28, 10 9:50 pm

Originally Posted by clacko (Post 13483985)
iirc, gander was very busy during ww2.....9/11 was probably the 2nd busiest period for them....

That's correct - they mention in the feature that the airport was originally built by the military in the 1930s (predating the town) and was used as a staging area for aircraft departing for the European theater in WWII.

dre27nyc Mar 1, 10 12:47 am

The little place called Gander
Being a New Yorker, I, like many here, was focused on other things the days following 9/11 and never heard the story of Gander. Watching Tom Brokaw's piece during the Olympic broadcast the other day brought me to tears. I too wish there was a link, as I don't think I can retell the story well enough to do it justice. On NBC's website, on their contact page, there is an address to send Olympic feedback to. I am hoping that if enough people request it, they will re-air the piece so a greater audience can see it and hear this wonderful story of human kindness!

BearX220 Mar 1, 10 1:15 am

I came back from the grocery store Saturday afternoon to find my wife standing in the living room watching this piece and weeping. I saw the last ten minutes or so. I would dearly love to see the rest... perhaps it will show up on Hulu or NBC News will market a DVD, even.

B1 Mar 1, 10 5:24 am

CBC story on Brokaw
The CBC has a story about Tom Brokaw's visit to Gander. As well, if you search on the CBC site you will find the original accounts and videos. The diversion to Gander and the personal interactions were covered widely at the time. But the Brokaw story found the long-term relationships that developed and that was very special indeed. I did see the whole Brokaw piece and it was indeed terrific. It was carried on the Seattle NBC station that is on our Canadian satellite. By the way, I find it terribly ironic that in order to fly into the US from Canada we are subjected to extreme security while people within the US are not. While the 9/11 hijackers originated their flights that day in the US, the rumor that they were from Canada persisted to the point where Secretary Napolitano stated it recently.

skinnedtea Mar 1, 10 10:54 am

It was a grate story
I fully enjoy the story, wish I could see the entire segment. I still have tears thinking about it.

timber09 Mar 1, 10 10:57 am

My wife and I sat and watched this piece as well and I have been feverishly scouring the internet to find the footage to share with others as well - what a fantastic story that was forgotten in the aftermath of the events of that day.

jennieG Mar 1, 10 12:00 pm

Many in Canada did not see the piece in Canada (since our local coverage is so noone was watching NBC).

Please post the link here if you find it! Thanks.

yyz_atc_lj Mar 1, 10 12:24 pm

here's a fairly good book on the subject

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