On September 11, 2001, Canadian airports accepted more than 200 diverted flights – an effort known as Operation Yellow Ribbon – after U.S. airspace was abruptly closed. Several thousand American passengers were sheltered in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, and other nearby towns, effectively doubling the size of those communities in a matter of hours.
One such trans-Atlantic flight was Delta Air Lines Flight 15, which had been heading to Atlanta from Frankfurt, Germany when it was rerouted to Gander. The Flight 15 passengers and crew were eventually hosted in the nearby town of Lewisporte, where they spent the next four days until U.S. airspace was reopened.
To show their tangible appreciation for the extraordinary and spontaneous hospitality provided by their new friends, the Delta Flight 15 passengers and crew members established an endowed college scholarship fund for graduating high school students in Lewisporte. In the past ten years this fund has grown to over $1.5 million and has assisted approximately 134 students to attend college or university.
On September 6, 2011, Consul General Stephen Brereton hosted representatives from Lewisporte and the "Plane People" of the Delta Flight 15 for a reunion to commemorate the 10th anniversary of this tragedy and highlight the incredible friendship and generosity that made the scholarship fund possible. Special guests included U.S. Congressman Tom Price, Lewisporte Mayor Brian Peckford, Scholarship Fund Administrator/ Flight 15 Passenger Shirley Brooks-Jones, 2002 Scholarship Recipient Raie Lene Kirby, several Delta crew and passengers, other Atlanta guests.
At this time of remembrance, and in the years ahead, Canadians will continue to keep the victims and families of September 11 in our thoughts.
Read more on remembering 9/11.