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
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
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

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

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 Centre 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 Centre 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

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

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

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
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

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

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
ended up having a pretty good time.

Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the
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 Kilometre 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 travellers.
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 harbours. 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 travellers.

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
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

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

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
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 travellers.
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...*

Note : As we look back the long and challenging path we had been through in life, why not make it a little bit easier for others, ....