Crossroads of the World' Aviation site maps, a guide to Newfoundland
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The still intact tail and partial fuselage from the Belgian Airline is an eerie site around 35 kilometres southwest of Gander, N.L.The Sabena disaster of Sept. 18, 1946.
The DC-4 Airplane was on its way to New York from Brussels when it tried to land in rain, wind and heavy cloud cover at the airport in Gander for refuelling.
18 people were still alive when rescuers reached them more than 36 hours after the accident, included one of the first uses of helicopters in such a mission. Seventeen of them survived.Small crosses still mark where 26 passengers and crew who died at the Crash scene were buried because thick woods made removing the bodies so difficult.
The Sabena made international headlines as one of the most deadly Commercial Airline crashes of its day.
Gander's Airport was a vital staging ground to ferry thousands of Aircraft from North America to Britain during the Second World War and was among the largest in the world in 1940 .
In later years, it was a refuelling point for transatlantic flights carrying everyone from Fidel Castro to the Beatles. Gander became known as the "Crossroads of the World" before Jumbo Jets that could make longer trips diminished traffic to its sprawling airfield.
"Charlie Baker George: The Story of Sabena OOCBG" authored by Frank Tibbo, a retired air traffic controller in Gander, he has visited the isolated crash site as a guide several times in Helicopters Chartered by relatives of those who died.It's also possible to approach the Sabena on ATV and hike the rest of the way in, he further commented.
"A lot of people, when they get there, they still feel the effects of the terrible tragedy that happened in 1946."
Tibbo said it's important to maintain such sites both for their historical importance and as respectful testaments to those who perished.
The Silent Witness memorial, a short drive just outside Gander, has been put up where Arrow Air Flight 1285 went down on Dec. 12, 1985, killing 248 U.S. troops and eight crew members. A divided Canadian Aviation Safety Board blamed ice on the Aircraft's wings, but another report raised the prospect of an onboard explosion.
Exhibits at the North Atlantic Aviation Museum on the town's main highway trace construction of the Gander International Airport, its role in the Second World War and Transatlantic passenger travel.
There is also a section on the extraordinary hospitality shown by residents as 38 planes with almost 6,600 passengers were diverted to Gander during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A piece of steel from the World Trade Center was donated in thanks and is on permanent display.
Councillor Sarah McBreairty said the Town of Gander is creating a map and smartphone guide to help visitors find more than 20 places of aviation interest in the region.
"We're recognizing that Gander is history. Gander is heritage," she said in an interview.
One issue is balancing access to certain sites with a need to protect them "Preventing people from further destruction of these archeologically significant sites is crucial."
Farheen Khursheed Khan [MBA]
Project Manager, AeroSoft Corp