Gander Airport

22
Apr

AGAnderviation is often associated with romance and, though it may be hard to believe, there’s a lot that’s engaging about the history of Gander Airport.

“YQX” dates back to 1938 when it was chosen as the site of an impressive new facility, poised to be both the gateway airport  to North America and its jumping off point – despite the fact that there was not even a town there at the time. It went on to become, for a time,  the largest airport in the world, and during World War II (when Newfoundland and Labrador were still part of the UK) Gander became home to some 10,000 military personnel from the UK, US and Canada.

After the war it became known as the “crossroads of the world” as pre-jet age aircraft couldn’t make it across the Atlantic without a refuelling stop. It also gained some notoriety when Soviet passengers on flights refuelling between Cuba and the USSR would take a stroll through the airport’s massive concourse and….defect.

During 9/11 the townspeople became the impromptu hosts to over 40 aircraft forced to land at YQX. For six days, Gander, with a population of just 10,000, played host to some 6,600 people  – who received the legendary hospitality Newfoundlanders are known for.  Many are still in touch with their hosts.

Today Gander is still a popular stop as some 20% of private jets crossing the Atlantic land here to refuel, and its guest book boasts many Hollywood A-listers (who may have never heard of Newfoundland before).

However the bulk of its customers remain “regular” travellers, sure to increase in number this summer as WestJet recently announced daily service from Toronto (starting May 3) and Halifax (July 15).

 

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