Friday, August 1, 2014

North Atlantic Aviation Museum, Gander, NL

Susie and Denny caught up with us at the Country Inn RV Park in Gander and the four of us went to the Aviation Museum yesterday.


There are several planes on display outside the building.




Remember when something like this mobile staircase was used to climb up into planes before jet bridges were created? (I remember dragging my carry-on up them, dressed in business clothes and high heels on the way to meet clients – something I’m happy not to do now!) They are still in use at smaller airports.


Inside the museum we saw a model of the Administration Building, built in 1938 at the Gander Airport. In addition to the weather office, control tower and flying boat base, this building included living quarters, dining rooms and a small jailhouse. It also housed the Newfoundland Airport Club and was one of the first places to have a liquor license in Newfoundland.


Pilots learned to fly in this Link Trainer, which was simulated the sensation of flying including all the dives, rolls, pitches and climbs in a real airplane.


Attached to the museum building through an exterior wall is an actual Douglas DC-3 cockpit. It held a flight crew of 3 and up to 36 passengers. The weight of the plane, at 24,000 lbs., was about 4,000 lbs. less than our motorhome, and the length was about 24 feet longer (64 ft.). The DC-3 was first built in 1936 and production ceased in 1948. Over 10,000 were built.



Here’s a De Haviland Tiger Moth, weighing 1,825 lbs. including a 625 lb. load.


The most poignant parts of the museum’s displays are those about the role played by the town of Gander and its residents in the 9/11 tragedy in the U.S. When the Twin Towers were struck by terrorists, all continental North American airspace was closed. Incoming planes had to be diverted to other locations.

Gander, with its population of 10,000 people and 500 hotel rooms, assumed the tasks of landing, housing and providing for 6,600 stranded passengers and 473 crew members on 38 planes. Other planes were diverted to Moncton, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Many of the travelers were concerned about family and friends that might have been directly affected by the attack and were frantic for news, as well as being diverted and delayed in their arrivals at their destinations in the U.S. How wonderful to be welcomed with open arms by these accommodating strangers!

Gander residents not only invited people into their homes, they prepared schools and churches to become shelters, and pharmacists filled prescriptions without charge. Even the pets traveling in crates in the cargo holds of the planes were cared for by residents.

This bulletin board and notebook display the letters (some including money that was used to establish scholarships) from many of the grateful people who were helped.


This event, tragic though it was, caused stronger bonds to be built between the U.S. and Canada. For more information, including a fact-filled yet human interest documentary by Tom Brokaw on “Operation Yellow Ribbon” aired during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Google “Gander 9/11.” This video gives a whole different perspective from that which most of us in the U.S. had of the event.

Also, this book is recommended for further reading: “The Day the World Came To Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland,” by Jim DeFede.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Twillingate Festival; On To Gander

We really enjoyed the town of Twillingate and the Fish, Fun & Folk Festival. From our site in the church parking lot we had a nice view of the sign on the hillside where fireworks were shot off the first night.


The next day there was a parade.


Typical of a small town, all the entries were handmade and down-home. Twillingate is known as the Iceberg Capital of the World. The sheet-draped frame on the bed of this truck bears a small resemblance to an iceberg!


The winning entry in the parade was from Twillingate Pharmachoice, featuring a garden and some gardeners growing healthy food.


We then attended the festival’s opening session, with cancer survivors sitting in front of us (yellow shirts). When one of them learned I’m a survivor as well, she invited me to join them next year to walk in the parade.


Susie and I talked with Miss Achievement of Newfoundland and Labrador. What a talented and intelligent young woman!


Don and I visited the Twillingate Museum formed in 1972 in the former Anglican Parsonage.


I was most interested in the many hand-made items, especially those knitted and crocheted, crafts which are abundant here during the long winters.


I can’t imagine wearing this knitted wool petticoat next to my skin. The ladies probably wore cotton pantaloons underneath. But I really appreciate the skills it took to dye, card and spin the wool, as well as to knit the petticoat!


We enjoyed the beautiful weather and pretty views of the water from almost everywhere.


And the icebergs were superb!





Twillingate’s Long Point Lighthouse is just beyond Crow Head to the north. It’s very picturesque, and the grounds offer great views of the coastline and ocean.


We had lunch one day at the Crow’s Nest Café, high on a hill overlooking the town of Crow Head with the ocean and icebergs beyond. If you look closely you can see Don sitting on the deck on the far side, where our views were spectacular!


I was surprised to learn that we’re over 1,000 kilometers closer to London than Vancouver, in the same country!


A dinner theatre event was fun with Denny & Susie, and we met some fellow Escapees at our table. When Susie picked up our tickets, she had no problem predicting what choice of entrée Don and I would want!



The entertainment included traditional music and funny skits. We all enjoyed the evening.


Another evening event we were told not to miss was a concert by The Split Peas, a 7-woman musical group that has been performing together for over 20 years! Their music is really beautiful and we enjoyed the show.


There were many more events with music and entertainment during the week. We certainly didn’t have much spare time and enjoyed every minute!

We had a chance to spend a brief time with Jane & Russ Darrow who caught up with us for a couple of days, then went ahead toward St. John.



Don felt the need to eat his final lobster from the area before we left Twillingate. Weighing about 3 lbs, it overlapped the 10x12 platter! Susie and I had crab legs that evening, which were really good, and Don shared some of his lobster with us. Just the big claw (left one is larger) by itself had almost as much meat as some of our smaller lobsters. Denny’s not fond of seafood, so he went to the Jigg’s Dinner, a traditional salt beef Newfoundland meal, and enjoyed it.


We’re now in Gander, where we just received our mail shipment from Rapid City, which included a supply of Don’s insulin and other diabetic meds. Susie and Denny took another route to see more coastline and fishing villages and will meet up with us here tomorrow. Be sure to check her blog for their adventures.

Here’s a “small world story.” When we were in Baddeck, NS about 10 days ago, we stayed a couple of nights in a park where two Phaetons similar to ours (one is identical except for color, same year/same floor plan) came in and parked behind us, and we talked briefly with the owners. They are Larry & Sharon, and Mike and (forgot wife’s name). We were all out touring most of the time so we didn’t really get well-acquainted, but I remembered that both the men were in the Navy.


So, guess who just pulled in next to us in Gander? Yep, the same two Phaetons! Maybe we’ll have a chance to visit more this time.


I’ll close with a Newfoundland sunset. Not as spectacular as those we experience in Arizona, but pretty good!