Delta Flight 15

           Delta Flight 15, Gander Canada, 09SEP01                 9/11, Gander, Canada, Delta Flight 15             Gander, Canada, Delta Flight 15

11 years down and we still hear newer stories from the most heinous terrorist attack in the history of US that took place on the 11th September 2001.

Amdist all the madness and chaos of terrorism and global crimes against mother earth, here’s a heart-warming story that reminds us that there is still much good in the world.

This story has been widely publicised, but I came across it today and just had to share for the benefit of others like me who don’t know it as yet. 🙂

As narrated by a flight attendant of Delta Flight 15.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 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 in Canada.

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 airplanes. 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 US $14,000!

The gentleman, an 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.

Advertisements

Breach of Trust

We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot

– Abraham Lincoln

Keeping your Word, Keeping promises

 Somebody has said – You are Your Word!

I cannot think of enough ways to establish the truth in that statement. We may not have given this much thought in life. But if you care about being anything in life, you should.  A person’s worth is measured in numerous ways but perhaps there is no other standard of measure more reliable than “keeping your word“.

Being continually let down makes you lose trust and respect in a person. It is a reason why we don’t trust or respect our politicians because most of them follow a road of broken promises.

When you value someone, you will find the means to keep your word no matter what.

In a marriage, keeping your word and following through on your promises helps to reinforce the trust that your spouse already has in you or it helps to build lost trust. Not keeping your word tells your spouse that you simply don’t care.

And today I was once again told by a broken promise that he just doesn’t care.

When a spouse wants to stay in a marriage and is trying to build it by making amends for his wrongs, keeping promises takes on a whole lot of significance in the rebuilding process.

From experience, I get a red flag every time he “promises” me something. And yet, I believe whenever he tells me something, always being hopeful that may be THIS TIME he will mean what he says. And I was being hopeful again today when I believed him when he told me that he will take a certain action in our court matter.

Guess what? He didn’t turn up. His lawyer said he got caught up in work.

Keeping my word is very important to me. I used to think that was a universal trait, but I’ve been disappointed so often that I discovered this was not true for everyone. Certainly not for my husband.

My mother always says, “Bole taisa kare, tyachi vandavi pavale” roughly translated it means – Someone who does as he says deserves to get his feet touched (touching the feet is mark of respect in India). Words have meaning, whether or not we mean them. When we tell someone we will do something, we are creating expectations. I know how pleasurable it is to have your expectations met. Keeping our word builds trust. Trust gives us security. Security builds healthy and happy relationships.

I will concede that there can be circumstances that may thwart your intentions, but then it becomes necessary to communicate the change.

And therefore, communication, as trite as it may sound, is also foundational to building good relationships. You need to communicate why you cannot keep your promise. That will help to salvage whatever little trust someone may have in you. Because re-earning trust may not be as easy as maintaining it in the first place.

If there was any little hope that I would have changed my mind about getting back with my husband, now is lost forever. For the past 7 years, he has let me down over and over and over again. I look back and realise all he’s done is lie, hide, run, avoid, make excuses to wiggle his way out of his promises. Most of the time he talked was all hot air or said for an effect. And yet, i trusted him one last time to do what he said he would. And he let me down big time, sounding the death knell for our marriage.

Keeping your word in my world is a given. When you say “I promise” or “you have my word,” it’s a done deal. Period. You do as promised. That’s it, that’s all.

I have listed a few tips from my experience in the matter:

  • If you think your memory poses a problem with remembering promises, put a reminder. These days there are alerts / pop-ups on your emails and other computer applications, there are similar alerts on your mobile phone. Use these gadgets to help you with keeping your word.
  • If for some reason you decide you are unable to keep the promise or you decide you don’t want to keep the promise, then SPEAK UP. Communicating it is the only way you can save your face and/or the trust you stand to lose.
  • If you are promising someone something, do it ONLY IF you mean to follow through and NOT for effect or to get someone off your back or to manipulate someone into agreeing with you.

Keeping your word is therefore, very important and can save your reputation and sometimes even your life. If you are the type of person whose word is truly golden, your reputation will reflect that. People will come to respect and trust you. If your word is respected, you might be allowed to fix whatever mess you’ve gotten yourself into.

So always walk the talk. Do WHAT you say you will do, WHEN you say you will do it.

Blog Awards

Dear Tapish,

I humbly acknowledge and thank you for nominating me for:

  • The Very Inspiring Blogger Award; and
  • The Liebster Blog Award

  

You’ve been one big source of encouragement to me in this WordPress Community. And through you I have been introduced to other great blogs that I regularly follow.

Once again a big thank you to Tapish who’s blog you can follow here.

And on to following through the rest of the rules of being nominated to the award…

Rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Answer the 11 questions .
3. Nominate 11 bloggers for the same.

Questions:

1. A book that changed your  life : The Story of a Soul: An Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

2. Your favourite author/writer : St. Thérèse, Fulton Sheen, Frederick Forsyth

3. Pet and its name: None

4. Craziest thing you have done: We do it everyday – jump into moving trains 🙂

5. My best friend: Apart from Jesus you mean? 🙂

6. A childhood prank: Unfortunately I missed out on that part of childhood fun cosI didn’t play any 😦

7. Favourite music artist:

  • Hindi : Sonu Nigam
  • Pakistani : Aatif Aslam
  • English : Many
  • Religious : Celebrant Singers

8. A place you  would love to visit: 3 places actually – Europe / Australia & New Zealand

9. If I had just 5 minutes left to live what is the one thing I would do? : Seek forgiveness from God and reaffirm my love towards the loved ones.

10. Favourite sport: Does blogging qualify? 🙂

11. How do I define love? :

You know you are in love when

…you can’t sleep

because reality is finally better than dreams

Nominations for the Liebster Blog Award:

So here are some of my favourite wordpress blogs-

  1. http://insimplicity.wordpress.com/
  2. http://thegreatplainspoet.wordpress.com/
  3. http://maggieseverythingblog.wordpress.com/
  4. http://privyplace.wordpress.com/
  5. http://jamesdez.wordpress.com/
  6. http://justanotherwakeupcall.wordpress.com/
  7. http://lonelypilgrim.com/
  8. http://fadingmeta.wordpress.com/
  9. http://whatafriendwehave.com/
  10. http://daddy-drinks.com/
  11. AND you yourself, Mr.Tapish Gupta – http://lifeof24hours.wordpress.com/