It’s hard to imagine that after the shock of the 9/11 attacks, U.S. airspace was closed to everything except military aircraft. While domestic flights were forced to land at the nearest airport, what about international flights that were leaving the country or just arriving? They had to land as well. If you were on a flight going over the Northern Atlantic, more than likely your flight was diverted and told to land at Gander Airport.
You know Gander Airport, YQX for those keeping track, in Newfoundland, Canada. It was the perfect place to land a bunch of large planes. The former airport, once an important refueling point for flights across the Atlantic, is now mostly known as a place that planes land if they have in-flight emergencies.
On 9/11, 38 planes landed at Gander and a town of 9,000 had to deal with 6,500 visitors with no notice and no idea of how long they would be there.
Most people know about Gander because of the smash-hit Broadway musical “Come From Away.” While seemingly odd subject matter for a musical, it’s an amazing show and you should see it if you get a chance.
While the show takes some liberties with the specifics about the characters and plot, the people the show is based on are real. The mayor, the policeman, the SPCA worker and the teacher are all people who lived and still live in Gander.
Motivated by the hit show, filmmakers decided to capture the true stories of the real people of Gander. The result is the documentary “You Are Here: A Come From Away Story”. The show has been shown on Canadian television and is making the rounds of the U.S. and Canadian film festival circuit, winning several awards in the process.
For one night, on September 11th, Fathom Events will be showing the film in theaters across the entire United States.
If you love the musical, it’s a great way to get to know more about the people behind the characters. If you can’t stand musicals, here’s your chance to learn about how a small town on an island on the tip of Canada hosted 6,500 stranded passengers for 5 days.
The story of this town is inspiring as it shows how, in the darkest hours, it’s still possible for the light of kindness to shine through and make the world a better place. While I’ll be sure to spend some time on 9/11 to think about all that we lost, I’ll also be spending a bit of time at a movie theater watching about how the people of Gander spent 9/11 and the days thereafter, making things a little bit nicer for an unbelievable number of guests who didn’t want to be there.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary