Greeting the “plane people” with warmth, locals provided meals, clean bedding, and hot showers. Schools, churches, and legion halls were converted into makeshift dormitories. Some residents, including Derm Flynn, the mayor of the town of Appleton, even invited visitors to stay in their homes. The passengers on Pinto’s flight were sheltered in a church in the town of Lewisporte.
Area pharmacies filled prescriptions without cost, banks of free public telephones were installed so visitors could call home, and donations of toiletries, clothing, and food flowed in. Much of the food was stored at the Gander Community Centre’s ice rink, turning it into “the largest walk-in freezer in the country,” according to Gander’s mayor, Claude Elliott.
Once basic needs were met, the Newfoundlanders worked to entertain the visitors. They organized tours of the town, bowling matches, and concerts by local bands. Visitors also were introduced to regional cuisine, including stewed moose. When asked about their generosity, many residents responded that their efforts were not out of the ordinary. “For us, it was just every day,” said Janice Goudie, a local newspaper reporter. “You don’t turn your backs on people in need.”