Amazing Story of Delta Flight 15 on 9/11

Forwarded message
From: Ken W
Date: 27 April 2014 08:19
Subject: Fw: Fwd: Amazing Story of Delta Flight 15 on 9/11

This is a good old story, a bit long, but well worth reading.

Jerry Brown Delta Flight 15 … (true 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 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 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 today’s world this
story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

*This is one of those stories that need to be shared. Please do so…*

"Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours."~ C.S.Lewis

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