Back to Squawk list
  • 53

Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada. A onetime transatlantic refueling stop, the airport has had a varied and interesting history.

It's an unlikely location for an international airport, but the northeastern tip of this rocky Canadian isle is one of the world's most significant aviation destinations. ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

canuck44 12
An incredible story most often overlooked was the role of Gander ATC in the 9/11 story. Fortunately distances in Gander are not great for the duty controllers were suddenly faced with landing 220 aircraft that were too far along to turn back. They were told if possible to avoid Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa (I suppose someone in Central Canada thinking they were valuable).
The crew immediately called in the off duty controllers and the team reorganized the North Atlantic air traffic in quick time. They had to match the aircraft with comparable runways and available space.It was an incredible feat performed in a couple of hours even landing 38 on their home turf.
James Simms 9
All of AirNav Canada performed an outstanding job that day
canuck44 6
I looked for information on the ATC that day and found the regular shift was three controllers and a supervisor. They rapidly expanded to 14 controllers and over the next four hours got everyone down safely. I am sure their plots must have looked like Chinese fire drill in three dimensions. Listening to the ATC on the video is remarkable for the calming effect of their Newfoundland accents clearing the skies over the Atlantic and the responses from cockpits who undoubtedly knew what the controllers faced as they watched aircraft from parallel tracks veer off to destinations the names of of which they may never heard.
william baker 1
Check out my video link from above. It talks about the ATC
canuck44 4
I got the actual numbers from there and the accents. Thanx. NBC did a great job with that presentation but obviously could only get the flavor of Gander. Some of the plane people were bused to small nearby communities where the locals took them fishing or sight seeing in the bay. Returning to the aircraft hundreds of people were on a first name basis and I have never heard of any discourse between passengers who adopted the spirit of the population with generosity and consideration of others. Essentially it was contagious even to folks who normally would be elbowing their way through the bustle of urban life.
One charter flight full of people from France was parked at Mirabel, and the locals also brought those who wanted to nearby lakes fo fishing. I remember an older French guy almost crying, as fishing in Canada had been a lifelong dream for him.
william baker 2
Oh i didnt realize you got it from there. Sorry but anyways Thanks so much
David Grimm 1
Video unavailable.
william baker 1
I just checked the video and the link works for me. Maybe try it again also heres the link again.
siriusloon 4
The other reason they were told not to go to Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto is that all three are just minutes of flying time away from U.S. airspace and no one wanted an aircraft to make a sudden left turn and head south.
James Simms 1
Plus those are in built up areas that could have offered targets of opportunity had hijackers been on board
Dan Harris 3
While visiting Gander a couple of years ago my wife and I struck up a conversation with a couple at the table next to us at a Gander restaurant. A very common thing in Newfoundland. As we spoke on, the gentleman disclosed that he was an air traffic controller at Gander and responded on 911. He was called in from off-duty and worked 18 hours or more straight staging aircraft on one of the runways turned ramp. We lived in Newfoundland for 3 years before returning to Texas. Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders are wonderful and unique.
While looking at the monument to John Cabot near Bonavista I told a guy passing by he had a nice dog. The ensuing conversation lasted three hours, fun was had by all....
canuck44 4
As a professor of Otolaryngology in Halifax I made many a trip to Newfoundland to "teach" and often ended up as the student. The meetings in Gander were particularly memorable where after I gave my academic approach to the problems I treat, I would then get to listen to "real doctors" talk. They were young men and women who looked after the populations of the small out ports in cottage hospitals around the perimeter of the state often accessible only by fishing boats unless frozen in. With little or no backup facilities or help (no Internet either) these young physicians and their nurses practiced medicine looking after their neighbours by the seat of their pants and a short wave radio. I think I learned far more from them than I imparted to them.
Things are much better now with roads and helicopters but such was the spirit of the population, one that was available for the "plane people" when the dropped in for a few days.
dmanuel 3
I see potential for a movie based on your description of events that most people are unaware prevailed that day.
laundryczar 1
It’s in the works.
Yvon Dionne 7
Also another interest historical fact is that Newfoundland didn't enter Confederation until 1949.
canuck44 13
There are probably friendlier people on the planet than the Newfies but I have not yet found any. There are beautiful unblemished areas of the province where you will always be welcomed by the residents. There are few areas more beautiful than the water approach into Cornerbrook. For a great maritime experience fly to Halifax, see Cape Breton and then ferry to Newfoundland and drive to St John's.
william baker 9
Gander international is a wonerful small airport. On Sepetember 11th then did what most could only dream off. That took these passangers from all walks of life. Russian, German, American, British, France plus many more and then housed anf fed them without asking for anything in return. They should be commened for there kindness during the hard times going on in the USA. Gob bless them and everyone else in this world.
James Simms 7
“The Day The World Came To Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland”.
william baker 5
9/11 Operation Yellow ribbon Gander Newfoundland.
James Simms 0
That was a book that’s available if interested
siriusloon 3
There's also a Broadway musical, "Come from Away".
canuck44 6
For those on the forum who do not know "Come from away" is Newfie dialect for anyone not from "The Rock". Newfies are divided into two groups: Townies and Baymen depending on which side of the overpass one lives in St.John's.
laundryczar 1
.....and to some, Newfie is still pejorative. Some even raise an eyebrow when the dogs are referred to as such. Sitting in St. John’s as we speak on one of those rare days when you wonder how it got the nickname Fogtown.
Some, maybe, but most Newfies I know wear the name as a proud badge of honour. They generally also know the best Newfie jokes.
laundryczar 1
It depends on who is saying it and the tone. However, I've spent a lot of time here and these overwhelmingly kind people will likely smile and tell you that but are cringing on the inside. They are polite but they have long memories. I find as a long time CFA, it is best to just avoid it.
canuck44 1
I guess being associated with these folks for 60 years I missed the ones to didn't like being referred to as a Newfie...even my dog was "Newf" so he didn't have to remember both his breed and his name. Went to work with me at Shearwater and I am sure he knew every two legged Newfie on the base who would come by the hospital bearing treats to visit him not the medical folks.
laundryczar 1
That is nice to hear. Our experience has been very, very different so I hope ours is the anomaly, However, I still stand by cautious use of the term by CFAs.
william baker 1
I figured that much. I was also sending a video of 9/11 in Gander as well for people who want to watch it.
william baker 1
Sorry thats Wonderful not wonerful
On September 11th planes were also diverted to St. John’s & Stephenville Newfoundland, don’t take this the wrong way Gander and the surrounding communities done an absolute great job that day and days to follow on taking on the task to comfort the stranded passengers on such a horrific incident but I never ever hear about the other communities in the province that the planes had landed I do know from stories I have read that those passengers have returned to Stephenville and St.johns years later and have made everlasting friendships to the people of the island great job to all who have been there for all those people
Herb Pohlman 4
1958, a KLM all Economy Super Constellation from Amsterdam via Shannon and Gander to Idlewild (JFK) shut engine #3 down over the Atlantic. Landed Gander were invited into the terminal, a converted hanger for a coffee shop breakfast. Assumed KLM would ferry an aircraft in for us.
Nope! We were in Gander for the day as the engine would be changed while we waited. Bunks were available in one of the desolate WW-2 barracks named MARS, travel movie and ice cream would be provided for afternoon entertainment and meals in the coffeeshop. These meals were better than in the air as only sandwiches for food (The Sandwich War).
This traveler spent several memorable hours in the control tower, observed the KLM test flight with the new engine. Reboarded, another 90 minute delay, engine needed tweaking, took off around 9 PM and this traveler had what he considered a very fine day. O,Yes also KLM provide Hotel rooms at Idlewild if needed.
paul patten 4
In the "olden" days ferrying from Europe to the USA, it was either the goose or the gander.
Gander was an RAF Ferry Command station from 1941-1943. During WWII, some 9000+ aircraft out of manufacturing plants in the US were flown to Dorval Airport (nr Montreal) and from there to Gander, Newfoundland, the last stopover before making the transatlantic flight to England.
On the west coast of NL the small town of Stepenville has a massive Cold War era AFB, Harmon AFB. . It was turned over to Newfoundland in the 60’s. Now lightly used, many 911 aircraft landed here and were hosted by the local people.
canuck44 2
This was part of the Destroyers for bases deal between the US and the UK when the latter were desperately trying to survive the Battle of the Atlantic. The US traded old four stack destroyers for bases in Newfoundland and the Caribbean including Argentia as a Naval Air Station. The destroyers were put to work and kept the supply chain alive as the UK and Canada shipyards tried to stay ahead of the losses. They were instrumental in turning the tide.
RadBaron 3
Picture #16 in the first set, showing an Aeroflot jet... more Russians defected at Gander than you would guess. The flights would be headed to Cuba, and stop for refueling. After a while, an RCMP officer would be stationed at the airport when these jets landed, just for the purpose of receiving the defectors.
myalias 2
Indeed. More Soviets defected at Gander than anywhere else.
Canada is forever in debt for the community banding together on 9/11 as they put up over 7000 passengers ,and billeted them out into their homes local schools , without the aid of modern hotels or an upgraded airport , so why not go to Gander well its all new modern airport and new 3 hotels can now handle any issue thrown at them , I as an avid follower hope Airlines start and us gander for a stop over to fuel planes which will boost their economy . Well done Gander .
Whitehorse, Yukon and Halifax, Nova Scotia also handled a number of diverted 9-11 flights, as did several other Canadian airports.
Eddie Abel 2
Aeroflot had regular service to New York then as now. The issue of landing in Gander was more that some Russian aircraft of the era didn't have the range. Most of the Gander traffic also stopped in Shannon, Ireland.
"During the Cold War, USSR airplanes couldn't land in North America and headed to Canada instead". Perhaps someone should send CNN an atlas.
Ron Hanlon 2
Stopped to refuel there on a Laker Airways DC10 back in the 1990's coming home to London from Miami. We were allowed to disembark to have some of their wonderful ice cream at 2.30am on a June morning, it was quite surreal. Always remembered the clocks on the wall.
Quite a story, Love it.
My father was stationed there in WWII.
Actually he was at Goose Bay, some 380 miles northwest of Gander.
I was on a DC6B that made a landing in pea soup fog at Gander in June of 1966. It was in the middle of the night and I was 13 years old so it was quite the adventure for me since it took more than one attempt. We had dinner and had to wait for 4 hours for mechanical work to be completed before proceeding to the next fuel stop in Keflavik. Great memories!
SkyAware123 1
YEah, what a lovely place.. well not really. Planes DO still land there to fuel. I took a flight from Europe to Newark on a 757 once. The plane had a severe headwind and couldn't make it with the fuel on board so we had to land in Gander. What a desolate place. This was mid winter. Lost my connection ofcourse. They shouldn't fly the 757 on that route.
If it wasnt Gander it was Thule landing out C141 neither were pleasant in the middle of winter
darjr26 1
Gander is still used as an ETOPs alternate airport, for twin engine transatlantic flights, nearly every night. Too bad they cannot receive some money from the airlines that benefit from it being there every night for them.
I can't imagine not knowing where Gander is - even if you've not been there?!? Aviation enthusiast/pilot or not!!! WOW .... naive people .... ??? I mean I've never been to Tokyo or Easter Island or Nairobi or Keokuk, Iowa or the Kamchatka Peninsula but I certainly know where they are!

This is why the world is spiraling down to oblivion. That said Newfies are among the nicest people in the world!
David Beattie 1
My first stop in Gander was in a Piper Navajo in 1976 on the way to Greenland, Iceland and Scotland and ultimately, Saudi Arabia. Stopped there later in a DC-8, Learjet, and 757 returning from Barcelona. Gander’s heyday was the 40s-late 50s but it is still a reassuring port in the storm for anyone crossing the Atlantic.
Yvon Dionne 1
Gander has a rich history also from WW2 click on the link.


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.