On September 11, 2001, at the time three planes had already hit their targets and the fourth was about to plow into a field southeast of Pittsburgh, PA, 4,546 civilian aircraft were over the United States, and approximately 400 international flights were bound for its airports. When the Federal Aviation Administration shut down US airspace at 9:45 a.m. EDT, all those flights had to be diverted to airports outside the United States. More than 250 planes, carrying nearly 44,000 thousand passengers, were diverted to 15 Canadian airports, from Vancouver in the west to St John’s in the east, and all those passengers and cities certainly have remarkable stories. But no other airport north of the border featured the astounding narrative of Gander International Airport or became the subject of a Broadway play, Come from Away.
The generosity of the citizens of Gander became worldwide legend: as their population jumped from 10,300 to nearly 17,000 from travelers on 38 jets, they took stranded passengers into their homes, gathering needed clothing and personal items, feeding the crowd, and welcoming the aerial refugees in the kindest Canadian manner.
Over the course of four days, the stranded passengers and citizens of Gander formed friendships that will last a lifetime. At a time when the world seemed to be tearing apart, the good people of Gander, Newfoundland reminded the world that loving hearts are always needed, and goodwill is the best way to counteract terrorism and violence.