DES MOINES, Iowa -- As the musical “Come From Away” makes its debut in Des Moines on Tuesday, the person whose true story the musical is based on paid a visit to aspiring pilots and mechanics in a Des Moines high school program.
American Airlines Captain Beverley Bass said on September 11, 2001, she was flying from Paris to Dallas, Texas, when she found out about the tragic events that day. Her plane was then re-routed to Gander, Newfoundland.
“We landed 38 airplanes in 3 hours and stayed there for five days,” Bass said.
Bass said the people of Gander welcomed the 7,000 passengers with open arms on that disastrous day, and now people all over the world including right here in Des Moines get to see that story come to life in the musical “Come From Away.”
“That desire on September 15, 2001, that I wanted the whole world to see it is now happening. They now know the story of Gander. They now know how we were treated so beautifully while our country was suffering so desperately,” Bass said.
Before the musical kicked off in Des Moines, she shared her story with some students at Des Moines Central Campus Aviation Technology Academy. She wanted the aspiring pilots and mechanics to know there is plenty of opportunity in the field.
"There's so many jobs out there with regard to flying today, whether it be for a corporation, private owner or the airlines. Everybody has different desires in what they want to do and certainly the military is another aspect of it. I wasn't afforded that opportunity because when I started flying, women could not get into the military, but that is certainly a wonderful career path," Bass said.
She also answered many of their questions about the industry.
Two students said her words of encouragement, experience and wisdom inspired them.
“I personally found it just really inspiring to know that the people who have retired care about our future generations in the airline industry,” student Ian Roth said.
Student Chyanna Walker said she hopes to be an aviation mechanic one day.
“You don't see a lot of women in aviation, pilots and mechanics. So it was nice to see how far she's come and her story and how she started from where she is now," Walker said.
You can see “Come From Away” at the Des Moines Civic Center through Feb 2.