Louisville Area Travelers Helped Inspire ‘Come From Away’

By KIRBY ADAMS, Courier Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — It was Sept. 11, 2001, and Inform Metropolis, Indiana residents Ralph and Rose Reed have been on a transatlantic flight returning to the US from a visit to Germany.

“Our dad was a World Struggle II prisoner of warfare and was returning residence from a soul-searching journey to the Elbe River the place he had been captured throughout the warfare,” Pam Franzman instructed the Courier Journal. “However whereas their return flight was nonetheless out over the Atlantic, they have been instructed they have been making an unplanned cease in Newfoundland.”

When the US was attacked, the airspace over the nation was fully shut down. Because of this, 38 plane headed for the US from Europe have been diverted to the small Canadian city of Gander, Newfoundland. Nearly 7,000 passengers and crew have been stranded there, doubling the city’s inhabitants for a number of days.

Passengers on the inbound flights weren’t instructed a lot, simply that there had been a critical disaster in the US. Within the rapid aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist assaults, all flights have been suspect as authorities couldn’t ensure who was onboard the incoming flights.

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“Based mostly on the obscure data they got, passengers on my mother or father’s flight thought they have been being hijacked,” mentioned Franzman. “They spent 12 hours contained in the aircraft, on the tarmac earlier than sufficient college buses may very well be rounded as much as transport the 1000’s of passengers from the airport into the city.”

Within the 21 years for the reason that 9/11 terrorist assaults, tales of the so-called aircraft folks and the outpouring of affection and hospitality from the folks of Gander have endured and impressed a Broadway musical.

The true story of the small city that welcomed the world is instructed within the Tony award-winning musical “Come From Away,” which performs at The Kentucky Heart Feb. 15-20 as a part of the PNC Broadway in Louisville 2021-22 season.

Created by David Hein and Irene Sankoff, the musical is the real-life story of compassion, generosity and discovering the sunshine within the darkest of locations. The husband and spouse group traveled to Gander on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and spent a whole bunch of hours conducting interviews with native residents and “come from aways” (the title Newfoundlanders give guests) together with stranded passengers like Inez and David White, a Louisville couple who additionally unexpectedly landed in Gander whereas getting back from a cruise within the Baltic Sea on Sept. 11.

“In Gander, the varsity bus drivers have been on strike however they got here again to move all these bewildered vacationers to protected lodging as we waited to have the ability to come residence,” mentioned White. “We have been instructed we might solely take our carry-on luggage and our aircraft blanket after we left the aircraft.”

The stranded passengers got shelter in class gymnasiums and different public buildings. The residents of the small Canadian city gathered cots and provides for the 1000’s of passengers. They ready three meals a day for the guests and provided consolation and assist throughout a time of worry and uncertainty.

“The folks have been fantastic,” White mentioned. “They put their lives on maintain to feed us and make us really feel safe. We have been every given a NATO cot and we settled in a big firehouse to attend till we have been allowed to return residence.”

On the third day of their surprising layover in Gander, a neighborhood lady requested the Whites in the event that they wish to come to her residence for a bathe and sleep on an actual mattress.

“We rapidly volunteered and he or she took us to her residence,” White mentioned.

The Reeds have been additionally befriended by a neighborhood lady who picked them up every day from the shelter and introduced them to her residence for meals, showers, and to scrub their garments.

“They stayed in Gander for 5 days earlier than they might catch a flight again to the US,” Franzman remembered, “however they stayed in contact with their Gander host and he or she got here for a go to and stayed of their residence.”

In 2017, “Come From Away” opened on Broadway, and never lengthy after, in honor of her dad and mom, Franzman, her sister and their daughters traveled to New York Metropolis to see the manufacturing.

“I believe my dad and mom wrote this play as a result of it was precisely as they defined it,” she mentioned. “My dad and mom at the moment are gone however seeing ‘Come From Away,’ we laughed, we cried, and we celebrated what had been a milestone in our mother or father’s adventures and lives.”

“Come From Away” is a part of the PNC Broadway in Louisville 2021-22 season, which additionally contains “Imply Ladies,” “Hamilton,” and “Anastasia.”

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