Relay mercy in times of sorrow

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Jerry Brown Delta Flight 15... (true story)

 

It is more than 11 yrs since 9/11 and here is a wonderful story about that

terrible day.

 

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,

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 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 MATCH 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

faraway 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 todays 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 God Bless the Canadians."

 

Мир в Боге.ру

 


 

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