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Thread: 911

  1. #1

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    911

    I was sent in this story in an email and thought I'd share it as it's a good story.

    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 is 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 12:00 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 wonderingif 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 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 resultedin 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. Fortunatelywe 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 swaping 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."

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  3. Re: 911

    Thank you, Alistair, for posting this fine account.

    It takes me back to two different times in my life, i.e., my family of origin, parents, younger brother Jim, & I were on a MAT plane. We were flying back from England to the US, having fulfilled our duty tour there, after three years. We left RAF Mildenhall, but due to bad weather, we were taken to Scotland, landing there...not sure of name of airport, think it may have been Glasgow. We were offloaded, & ended up waiting there for several hours. Remember eating a meal, which didn't match the time...we were there in the black of night. Then, back on the plane...which was a prop type...as this was approx. 50 years ago. Then we flew into the Portuguese Azores, to an AF base there, coming down through a storm. Then we flew on, and eventually landed at Gander, Newfoundland for topping off the gas tanks. There were extremely high piles of snow there, & don't think we got off the plane. Then we flew on to McGuire AFB, New Jersey, where we finally deplaned. Glad to be home after 22-24 hours on the way.

    Secondly, on 9/11, I was with a client of mine, a senior citizen, to clean her apartment, & give her a shower, etc. But, we instead sat there crying, while watching the buildings come down & the grey billowing smoke, & the gray ashes raining down. I've told some of this already on here, but the above posting does take me back....Thanks for putting it up, Alastair. Joan

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  5. #3

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    Re: 911

    I was sitting in my office working on the computer when I got an email in saying to stop what I was doing and turn on the TV. I was intrigued so did that and that was me for 2 days after just watching the whole thing unfold. I remember doing a wee tribute to that event on the site and I must have got around 1500 emails in thanking me for it. Some of those messages were quite incredible. I thought afterwards I should have kept them but took the view at the time that these were very much personal emails and should not be kept.

    In fact a few in here will likely remember it. Here is the web page I created which includes some comments from our old community.

    http://www.electricscotland.com/usa/terror_america.htm

    In those days you could play background music on the page but as that's not possible these days I made a link to the music file at the top of the page. Not sure if the other links are still working.

    Alastair

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  7. #4

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    Re: 911

    Thanks Alastair. That was an amazing story. Certainly one aspect I'd never heard about from that day. I was three blocks from the Pentagon that morning, so it was a very different kind of day for me.
    Creag an Tuirc!

  8. #5

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    Re: 911

    I'm sure it would have been a very different day Tuirc. Some of the stories I got in were pretty emotional. One father wrote that his wee son went to the school in the area and of course couldn't attend for a while and he had difficulty explaining it to him. He said he'd used my page to do the explanation.

    Alastair

  9. #6

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    Re: 911

    I was talking in ICQ to Kathy Sutherland when she told me to go turn on my TV as a plane had just hit one of the twin towers. It was around midnight our time. I sat watching until the wee hours, crying.

    Elda

  10. #7

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    Re: 911

    I was on the way to work in Crystal City (if you look on a map Crystal City is separated from the Pentagon by I-395). I was driving through Alexandria listening to a radio broadcast out of New York. They broke in to announce, in a joking manner because no one had details, that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I switched to the "All News" station and they had a reporter on the scene describing it. Shortly thereafter the reporter screamed as the second plane hit. I got on the phone and called my wife and told her we were under attack. (Ex-Army here, I was under no illusions at that point). When I got to the office, we were all trying to get more info about what was happening in New York. Someone came running past the door to the office I was in saying that the Pentagon had just been hit. Now we had ex-Marines and me and we're experts in the rumor mill. So, we initially chalked this up to panicky rumors. But, checking was no problem because we could just look out the window on the other side of the building. We went over there and saw a black plume of smoke over the Pentagon. We were just digesting this information when the alarms in our building sounded. I tried to call my wife but the cell phones were down. So, I got to a land line called with the klaxons going in the background. Told her we were alright but being evacuated. When we left the building it was mad chaos. We were near a building with Federal Law Enforcement. Every few minutes an SUV would pull up and all the doors would spring open, men would run into the building and return with automatic weapons. The streets were controlled by men with automatic weapons and earpieces in plain clothes. Traffic was at full stop.

    We were in a vacuum for info. No phones, no radios, no TVs. I quickly tired of this state of affairs and decided to see what had happened at the Pentagon. A friend and I walked the couple of blocks toward I-395. (There is a hill that overlooks the Pentagon there). As we reached the parking lot near the hill we heard two LOUD Explosions. We ducked as did the Air Force officers already on the hill. It turned out the explosions were the sonic booms from the F-16s coming on station from Langley AFB in southern Virginia. The city was now defended, which was about to become very important. When we got to the top of the hill, the smoke was blowing past us. I purposely let it blow in my face, inhaled and let it sear into my memory because I knew that time would pass and we would want to forget it. I didn't want that to happen to me.

    An Air Force officer walked up and she had a portable radio and we got the first news we'd had in over an hour. They were interview a cop standing guard by the Pentagon. They were asking him if he knew of a report that a plane was still inbound to the Pentagon. He confirmed that was the case. Now those F-16s come into play. I knew that whatever was going to happen, that plane was not going to hit the Pentagon. If it got here it was going down someplace else. That being the case, we decamped to safer environs; the entrance to and underground parking structure.

    That's the exciting part. The rest of the day we were stuck. Traffic couldn't move. They closed the 14th Street bridge out of DC and I-395 where it meets the beltway so there was no traffic between DC and Beltway about 9 miles there. When we were finally able to leave I had the two ex-Marines in my car (they had commuted in that day). The on-ramp took us right past the part of the Pentagon that had been hit. Another sight I won't be forgetting. Then the drive down the highway that was completely deserted. It was literally like the end of the Earth. It's never like that, there are always 10s of thousands of cars and planes and helicopters. Now, nothing. Not even people. Just nothing. So yeah, it was a different kind of a day for me.
    Creag an Tuirc!

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  12. #8

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    Re: 911

    I've only been in two such situations. One was when I was a young lad in Kuwait when the Iraqi army threatened to invade Kuwait. This was back in the 50's. At the time Americans were being evacuated but the British were given the choice to stay or go and my folk decided to stay. I remember coming back from school one day only to find 3 paratroopers in the house. They had been sent in for a couple of days leave so they were enjoying having a cold shower and air conditioning. Other than that I don't really remember anything else other that they didn't invade so we were ok.

    The other was when I was working for Legal & General and our head office was the Rotunda Building in Birmingham, England. That was where the IRA set of a bomb in the pub at the foot of the building. It was a real mess. At the time anyone with an Irish accent had a bit of a hard time and as I was sharing a flat with a guy from Belfast I'd picked up a bit of an Irish accent at the time so got many suspicious looks. Of course from that time on there were security guards at the entrance to the building and the pub.

    Alastair

    Alastair

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