2 Oct. 2014 – Craig Fisher Tells of Being ‘Stranded in Gambo’

Craig explained the flight by United Airlines 929 started as any other from London to Chicago, except on this day it was noticed that the plane was still some way out from U.S. airspace when they started to descend and jettison fuel. The pilot explained they were being diverted to Gander in Newfoundland. Once on the ground they discovered what had happened in New York; the date was September 11, 2001.

Dumping fuel
Dumping fuel

Although named Gander International Airport, the facility is small and no longer used as a refuelling stop by the large jets now flying between Europe and America. Fortunately Gander is still the major airspace controller for the area. Planes that had only just started out from Europe were turned back but 38 nearing the U.S. were diverted to Gander.  Passengers were then bussed to Gander, Gambo and Lewisport where they were made welcome by airline staff and locals. Those from UA929 went to Gambo and were supplied with essentials like soap, toothbrushes, razors etc. and later even clean clothes. Friendships were established and grew between passengers and with locals.

38 aircraft crowded on the tarmac at Gander
38 aircraft crowded on the tarmac at Gander

In the years since those six days at Gambo, passengers have kept in touch, now through a webpage and Facebook.  One passenger said in 2012  “This time 11 years ago we were waiting on the tarmac without knowing what a special week in Gambo was ahead of us. How a terrible tragedy can cause so many wonderful memories is one of the wonders in life”.