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Author Topic: NY Times Article
Jeff I.
Post Captain
Member # 2334

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I was traveling yesterday and didn't have a chance to post but .... if anyone has access to yesterday's NY Times, take a look at the Business Section where the Frequent Flyer weekly stuff is. There was a recounting of an incident from 1984 (I think) involving a TWA 747 to Milan that had to divert to Stephenville, Newfoundland after an emergency light went on indicating a fire in the cargo bay. Apparently, the whole TWA crew dealt with this in a highly professional manner (not surprisingly) but, since they landed with fuel tanks mostly full they informed the passengers that the layover would be a while as they needed to fly up some TWA mechs from JFK to inspect the landing gear and some other things. This passenger mentioned that TWA put them up overnight, fed them well and generally made the whole experience as nice as possible under the circumstances. They eventually hit the air again and made it to Milan in time for this fellow to get to his originally scheduled meeting. Anyway, it was so nice to read about TWA in action ..... even if it was almost 20 years ago.

Oh ... by the way, in the article our beloved airline was referred to as, "The late, great TWA!"
And may the legend live on .....

Jeff I.

[ 12-22-2004, 14:37: Message edited by: Jeff I. ]

Posts: 485 | From: New York  |  IP: Logged
Post Captain
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Hopefully Jack & the NYTimes won't mind the full posting of the article here:

December 21, 2004
An Emergency Brings Out the Best in a Canadian Town

There is never a particularly good time for a fire-warning light in a Boeing 747 to pop on, but in flight over the North Atlantic would not be anyone's first choice.

The year was 1984 and the airline was the late, great T.W.A.

It was a Saturday evening and I was on my way to Milan, in coach, for a business meeting on Monday. Dinner had been served. My several hundred traveling companions and I were dozing off when the captain came on the public address system.

A warning light was indicating a fire in the cargo hold down below. There was no other indication of fire but caution dictated that we land quickly. He intended to land at Stephenville, Newfoundland.

And, within about 15 minutes, he had done just that, quite smoothly. With nothing but the warning light to indicate a fire, we waited on board while stairs were brought to the airplane and then clopped down them with our hand baggage, into the Newfoundland night.

It was very dark and the airport was quiet, but there was a small terminal nearby. At that hour it was deserted, but it was to be our home for the night.

The flight attendants hauled great stacks of blankets and pillows out of the airplane and distributed them. Passengers curled up on luggage carousels and in the middle of the terminal floor. I caught a few hours of sleep under the counter of the car rental agency until someone kicked me in the head just before dawn.

And then I smelled bacon frying.

While we were all strangers to middle-of-the-night emergency landings, it developed that the people of Stephenville were not. Having found themselves in possession of a 10,000-foot runway, built by American taxpayers and abandoned by the Air Force in 1966, the Stephenvillians had enthusiastically accepted the role of hosts to airplanes that suddenly appeared in the wee hours.

The little snack bar in the terminal was already turning out a hot breakfast for several hundred, with T.W.A. picking up the cost.

The flight crew explained that we would be guests of Stephenville for perhaps a day. The big jet had landed with nearly full tanks, placing it well over its landing weight limits. The airplane would have to be inspected by mechanics to make sure the landing gear wasn't damaged. The mechanics were flying up from New York.

Not to worry. School buses appeared early on Sunday morning. The Roman Catholics among us were shuttled off to Mass; the rest of us boarded buses for a tour of the surrounding fishing communities.

We were guests of a town that clearly had done this before.

On Sunday afternoon, a Learjet dipped from the sky, landed and taxied up to the 747. The mechanics had arrived. A few hours later, we were off.

We landed in Milan in the middle of the night. I got to my hotel before dawn on Monday and made it to my first meeting on time.

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In the fall of 1967, a Navy Squadron that I was in, tried to land at NAS Argentia (taxpayer provided) which is North East of Stephenville, but the crosswinds were too great, so we opted for Stephensville with its long runways (taxpayer supported) where the wind was down the runway. We were all successful in landing and happy in that we were all low fuel state. The people of Stephenville were very gracious to us. I have fond memories of the people od Stephenville for their support or us.
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Jeff I.
Post Captain
Member # 2334

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Mike -

Thanks for your assist on this one! The article is so much better than my feeble recounting of it.

Jetman -

Thanks for your personal story. Very interesting.

Jeff I.

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