Virgin Atlantic- welcome to, um Gander, Canada

Posted on Aug 20, 2013 | Comments Off on Virgin Atlantic- welcome to, um Gander, Canada


A Virgin Atlantic flight between Heathrow and New York had to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada on Saturday after an incident on the Airbus A330-300 variously described as a technical fault or low fuel – now given as a suspected fuel leak. Another aircraft came in to pick up the passengers but, in the absence of sufficient local accommodation, passengers slept on the airport floor. The eight hour flight became a 27-hour ordeal.

iTT wonders how many passengers knew, or cared, that they had a chance to drop in on a piece of international travel history. Soon after it opened in 1938 Gander was the largest airport in the world – a vital refuelling stop for flights between Europe and America – and, as Virgin Atlantic would appreciate, had the biggest landing field. Then came the big mistake. In the late 1950s, at a time when stars like Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were regular visitors, Canada decided to create a large modern terminal to cater to them. In 1959 it was opened by Queen Elizabeth II – Prince Phillip was invited to kiss a cod. Almost to the minute, aircraft evolved so trans-Atlantic flights could span the whole distance between New York and London – and Gander became irrelevant. True, the Beatles first touched down in North America at Gander but they may have been among the last to visit until it was packed again in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, when air traffic over US airspace was shut down.

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These days, Gander township (pop. 9650) is served by small Air Canada turbo-prop aircraft. Everyone who chances upon this out-of-the-way accidental design museum (the chairs were by Eames, the benches by Robin Bush and the terrazzo floor looks like a painting by Mondrian). And all of it has hardly been used in 50 years.

iTT hopes at least one passenger with an interest in design (or aviation history) couldn’t believe their luck when they got to spend most of a day in Gander?


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