Set off on the first leg to Paris last night, departing New York's KLGA, just as the first Connies to take passengers across the Atlantic did on Feb 6th, 1946, when TWA opened post-war commercial intercontinental air service. Mostly uneventful, and mostly 800 miles in a straight line to the last landfall before I cross the 1700 miles to our next stop, Shannon, Ireland. Seeing how much fuel remained on-board despite my making the entire leg in a fuel guzzling fast cruise configuration eased my mind about making the Atlantic crossing. We should arrive in Ireland with plenty of fuel to spare.
Beyond Shannon, it's just a few hundred miles to Paris. I think we will cross the Atlantic tomorrow morning.
Some interesting information about Gander airport from Wikipedia
Construction of the airport began in 1936 and it was opened in 1938, with its first landing on January 11 of that year, by Captain Douglas Fraser flying a Fox Moth of Imperial Airways. Within a few years it had four runways and was the largest airport in the world. Its official name until 1941 was Newfoundland Airport.
Gander was a major airport during the Second World War due to the heavy transit traffic across the North Atlantic to the United Kingdom. Almost all the planes destined for the European front travelled through Gander. Its importance was largely a matter of geography, as Gander lies almost precisely on the great circle route between the major cities of the U.S. East Coast and London and was sufficiently close to Europe to allow the piston-engined planes of that day to make a non-refueled transatlantic crossing from there.
After the war, as transatlantic traffic increased, Gander retained its prominence due to the need for a refueling point. Airlines such as Trans-Canada Air Lines (later Air Canada), British Overseas Airways Corporation (later British Airways), and Pan American World Airways made Gander their main refueling point.
With the advent of jet aircraft with extended ranges in the late 1960s, the need for a refueling point ceased on most flights. Gander has steadily decreased in importance since then, but it remains the home of Gander Control, one of the two air traffic controls (the other being Shanwick Oceanic Control) which direct the high-level airways of the North Atlantic. Every plane travelling to and from Europe or North America must talk to either or both of these ATCs.
During the Cold War Gander was also notable for the number of persons from the former Warsaw Pact nations who defected there. It was one of the few refueling points where airplanes could stop en route from eastern Europe or the Soviet Union to Cuba.
On December 12, 1985 Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashed on take-off from runway 21. The disaster claimed the lives of 8 crew and 248 soldiers from the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division who were returning home for Christmas from a peacekeeping deployment in the Middle East. The impact on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway on the shore of Gander Lake left a charred clearing in the forest where a memorial now stands to those who lost their lives in Canada's most deadly air crash.
On September 11, 2001, with United States airspace closed due to the terrorist attacks, Gander International played host to 39 airliners, totaling 6,122 passengers and 473 crew, as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. Gander International received more flights than any other Canadian airport involved in the operation apart from Halifax (The airport that received the highest number of passengers was Vancouver). Much of this was because Transport Canada and NAV CANADA instructed pilots coming from Europe to avoid the airports in major urban centers of Central Canada, like Lester B. Pearson in Toronto and Montréal-Dorval. The reception these travellers received has been one of the most widely reported happy stories surrounding that day.
The airport was the site for Canada's memorial service to mark the first anniversary of the attack, which Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Transport Minister David Collenette, U.S. Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci, and provincial and local officials presided over. 2,500 of the 6,600 people that were diverted there the year before also attended the ceremony.