Monday, September 2, 2013

New York! (almost)

NOT the New York skyline
After years of flying Delta (Stuttgart-Atlanta-Richmond), we decided to cut our air time by flying directly to New York and then, after spending a few days there seeing the sights, driving down to Richmond to see the family.

Nice thought, but thanks to an overheated second engine, we had to make an emergency landing in Newfoundland and Labrador - Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Never heard of it? Neither had we. But when the pilot suddenly announces, "Ladies and gentlemen, we'll be landing in ten minutes," you will never forget it.
Calmly ask your children to put on their shoes and coats. Try to ignore the other passengers, who are still watching "Friends", "The Office" and "Olympus Has Fallen" and keep breathing. In. Out.

Goose Bay is a Canadian Forces Base with a large German presence, judging from all the flags hanging on the dozens of barracks near the airport. The Canadian Border Services are prepared to handle general aviation craft with no more than 15 passengers, but they were quite patient with the 270 of us.

Hey, that's not the Brooklyn Bridge!
My former colleague, Greg Fuller, wrote that the airplanes he was on used to stop there to refuel on their way from Chicago to Shannon, Ireland, back in the 1960s. And it is also where inbound flights stopped on 9/11/2001 once US airspace was closed. The nice young woman at the greeting center said there was usually at least one emergency landing there each week.

The fire crew greeted us as we landed.
The ground staff was prepared for us. We went through customs as iPhones were passed around and relatives were informed of the delay.

Looking for Mondrian in Labrador, Canada
Old black and white school buses transported us to a large dining hall where we were allowed to eat and drink as much as we liked.

Every so often a rumor would spread from the doorway area that the buses were ready to take us to the airport. The children were very patient and the other passengers were docile after they got the wireless code and could get back onto facebook.

Can you find Julia and Fynn?
During the course of the afternoon, families played the games they had brought along in their carry-on luggage, small groups talked or watched CBC TV and parents tried to keep their young children from having a melt-down.

Six hours later another plane arrived from Newark and took us to our final destination.

We were allowed to sit wherever we wanted. I sat on the wrong side and could only get this shot of my first Canadian sunset.

Normally, Continental/United would have to offer each passenger $600 each for such a delay; however, their "appreciation" page gives us a choice of $200 vouchers or 20% off tickets purchased directly from So if you are planning to travel within the US this year, contact me and we'll talk about vouchers!


  1. Back in the late 80's I was flying a Military Air Charter (MAC Flight) to the US and had an engine problem and landed there. The plane was on its maiden voyage after refit and though we sat in the airplane while they took the engine apart and put must of the stuff back in. leaving a few things on the tarmac, then they ran the engines for a few minutes and announced we would be leaving in a few minutes. As we left the ground the pilot said "this is not a drill" pause, pause, "we are really headed for Philadelphia this time." Good to know there are contingency plans for airlines, but you always hope to not have to use them.

  2. The pilot's job is to get the passengers to their destination safely. If they get there on time, that's just icing on the cake.

  3. WOW! Too much to say! Glad you made it. It's such a horrible feeling when your kids are with you but you go into protect and remain calm mode I guess. I've landed at wrong NYC airport before...never knew whether it was intentional or not but it was a storm and we were running out of fuel...I like to think the air traffic control and pilot knew which one they were heading for! But I didn't have kids with me. I was the kid. Canada, huh. Highly cool! Didn't know they HAD armed forces!! Photos are absolutely lovely...what a way to tell a story. And then I looked back...and they are all lovely, your photos and the stories they tell. the heart of it...hmm...guess I still need to work on mine! Thanks for the inspiration - and just the lovely stories! Enjoy folks from THERE are HERE with us in Australia for three weeks.