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Beyond Words Tour highlights how Central NL cared for stranded passengers following 9-11

GANDER, NL — As the Beyond Words tour rolled through Gander, coordinator Abby Moss turns in her seat to share her connection to 9-11.

“I was six when 9-11 happened, and just started Grade 1,” she recalled. “We went to school on Tuesday, the same as any other day, and they sent us home at lunch with no idea of when we would return.”

Moss remembers watching the news with her parents, learning about what happened, going up to the school to offer support and food, and bringing stranded passengers home to use the washroom facilities. 

And upon explaining the tour’s name comes from the Gander’s 10th anniversary commemoration ceremony, and mixing in a bit of town trivia, the van rolls to a stop in front of the Gander International Airport.

Timed to arrive at peak traffic at the airport, Moss explains this gives those on the tour a sense of airport operations. 

Here she gives an overview of the airport’s history, the town’s history, and explains the story of how a section of Twin Towers steel beam was donated by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

She talks about the international lounges, and highlights the runways and tarmac where 38 planes were parked after US airspace was closed for several days following the 2001 attacks on New York. 

Then it’s back in the van and off to the town hall, where the tour usually meets up with a notable person of interest who shares their memories from 2001.

Working towards the final stop, Moss points out areas of interest – such as the Newtel building, St. Paul’s Intermediate School, Gander Academy, Gander Intermediate and various churches, all of which played roles during 9-11 in Gander. 

A portion of the tour is also used to highlight the help provided by surrounding communities, which Moss says mustn’t be forgotten.

“We talk a lot about what Gander did for 9-11, but it’s important to remember we wouldn’t have been able to do this without the contributions of the surrounding communities,” she said. “Out of the 7,000 passengers, about 3,500 stayed in Gander…so the surrounding areas played important roles as well.” 

The final leg of the tour concludes at the College of North Atlantic, which has a display of cots, depicting the set up for the stranded passengers in 2001. Also on display are numerous letters of thanks from those who spent their time here during 9-11.

The North Atlantic Aviation Museum embarked on its first set of tours on June 20. The idea to build a travelling tour came about after town representatives came back from the Broadway opening of ‘Come From Away’, realizing people would be visiting Gander because of the musical. 

Without a lot of attractions dedicated to the 9-11 effort that took place in the community, the Museum was approached about putting together the tour. Moss, having worked with the museum for the past five summers, was asked to take on preparing the tour.

“I spent most of May and June putting together this tour, talking to locals, going to different spots,” she said.  

Moss said the response has been a strong one.

 “Since it was only put together in May, it’s a little hard getting the word out, because the promotional material for the tourism year had already been printed. So we’re trying to spread the word. But we get a lot of people coming into the museum showing a lot of interest in the tour.” 


To Beyond Words Tour runs daily, 1-4 p.m. To learn more visit:

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