Archive for Friday, September 14, 2001

Diverted flights resume from Kansas airports

Stranded Israelis visit zoo in Wichita, learn country line dancing at local bar

September 14, 2001

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— Wichita Mid-Continent Airport and Garden City Regional Airport resumed flights Thursday as stranded passengers finally got airborne.

Mid-Continent sent its first diverted planes off Thursday.

America West was a little optimistic when it told its passengers to be at the airport at 7 a.m. Thursday for a 9 a.m. flight, said Mike Taylor, a Wichita city spokesman. That flight did not depart until later Thursday as passengers waited for the destination airport in Phoenix to be cleared by the FAA, he said.

About 1,500 passengers were stranded in Wichita after 20 passenger flights and seven cargo flights were diverted to Wichita in the wake of Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Another three airliners with 180 passengers were diverted to Garden City.

Garden City Regional remained closed to general aviation aircraft. Only air carrier, air taxi and emergency services aircraft are allowed, and those can fly only with a release from air traffic control, said Andrew Perry, director of aviation.

A group of 137 Israeli citizens stranded in Wichita when its charter flight was diverted has been making the most of an unexpected stay. Local synagogues have provided Kosher foods and translators.

The Israeli passengers spent Thursday at the Wichita zoo, a day after visiting Old Cowtown Museum. The non-Orthodox Jews among them even learned country line dancing at a local bar last night, Taylor said.

"At first they were very nervous about being here, they told us yesterday," Taylor said. "They now say that if they are stuck here another day they wouldn't mind. We've loaded them up with baseball caps, Riverfest T-shirts and mouse pads. It's international diplomacy."

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