Gander is a Canadian town located in the northeastern part of the island of Newfoundland in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, approximately south of Gander Bay, south of Twillingate and east of Grand Falls-Windsor. Located on the northeastern shore of Gander Lake, it is the site of Gander International Airport, formerly an important refuelling point for transatlantic aircraft, and, to this day, a preferred stopping point for transatlantic aircraft that need to land because of on-board medical or security emergencies.
Gander was chosen for the construction of an airport in 1935 because of its location close to the northeast tip of the North American continent. In 1936, construction of the base began, and the town started to develop. On January 11, 1938, Captain Douglas Fraser made the first landing at "Newfoundland Airport", now known as Gander International Airport, or "CYQX", in a single-engine biplane, Fox Moth VO-ADE.
During the Second World War, as many as 10,000 Canadian, British and American military personnel resided in Gander. The area became a strategic post for the Royal Air Force Air Ferry Command, with approximately 20,000 American- and Canadian-built fighters and bombers stopping at Gander en route to Europe. After the war, the airbase became a civilian airport, and the location of the town was moved a safe distance from the runways. Construction of the present town site began in the 1950s, and the present municipality was incorporated in 1958; the settlement around the airport was eventually abandoned.
After the Second World War, the town grew as the airport was used as a refuelling stop for transatlantic flights, earning its name "Cross-roads of the world". Efforts have been made to diversify the economy from being dependent on the airport, particularly as new aircraft designs permitted longer-range flights without the need for landing to refuel.
Gander was the site of a major aircraft accident, Arrow Air Flight 1285, on December 12, 1985. 256 people were killed in the disaster, making it the deadliest air crash to happen in Canada.
Gander International Airport played an integral role in world aviation in the hours immediately following the September 11 attacks when all of North America's airspace was closed by Transport Canada and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As part of Operation Yellow Ribbon, 38 civilian and 4 military flights bound for the United States were ordered to land at the airport—more flights than any Canadian airport other than Halifax International. More than 6,600 passengers and airline crew members, equivalent to 66 percent of the local population—third highest number of passengers, behind Vancouver International, which received 8,500, and Halifax—found themselves forced to stay in the Gander area for up to six days until airspace was reopened and flights resumed. Residents of Gander and surrounding communities volunteered to house, feed, and entertain the travelers in what became known as Operation Yellow Ribbon. This was largely because Transport Canada and NAV CANADA asked that transatlantic flights avoid major airports in central Canada, such as Lester B. Pearson in Toronto and Montréal-Dorval.
Subsequently, Lufthansa named one of its Airbus A340 aircraft Gander/Halifax to thank both cities for their handling of rerouted travellers on September 11. In addition, a book called The Day The World Came to Town was published by Reagan Books, and several stories and segments about Gander's role during that and subsequent days have been featured on various educational and news programs. A radio play, The Day the Planes Came by Caroline and David Stafford, dealt with the effect on Gander of the September 11 passengers. The play was first broadcast in June 2008 on BBC Radio 4, and was repeated in October 2009. A TV movie, Diverted, was made in 2009. In February 2010, NBC aired a report by Tom Brokaw on Gander's role in the displacement of hundreds of planes on 9/11 during their coverage of the Olympic Games in Vancouver. The broadcast showed the generosity and warm-heartedness of the town as it helped each passenger on that day.
The Town of Gander continues to play an important role in aerospace and Gander has retained an experienced United States Representative to attract and retain valid business opportunities in the aerospace industry.
In May 2007, MoneySense ranked Gander as the 10th best place to live in Canada. The magazine ranked communities strictly by crunching numbers relating to 12 measurable factors including weather, real estate values, income levels, unemployment rates, discretionary income, murder rates and signs of prosperity such as the percentage of late-model vehicles.