It sounds like a Hollywood movie story: exactly 20 years ago, Briton Nick Marson and American Diane Kirschke were passengers on the same Continental Airlines flight from London to Houston, Texas, when an unforeseen event made the two approach and eventually fall in love.
The reason? They were on board on September 11, 2001 and the plane had to be diverted to Canada because of the attacks on the Twin Towers, in New York, and the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia.
Like the rest of their fellow passengers, Nick and Diane did not know the real reason for the diversion until the moment of landing, when the captain informed the passengers about what had happened in the USA.
When they arrived on Canadian soil, they were forced to stay on the aircraft until the next day for safety reasons, and only on the 12th they were able to explore the small town of Gander, a rural community with just 10,000 inhabitants.
In shelters prepared to receive the 7,000 passengers of all flights that were also stranded in the region, Diane and Nick finally approached and started talking, he told US CNN. Nick asked Diane if he could stay on the mat next to hers, and from then on they started taking walks, participating in scavenger hunts, and buying food together.
So much so that they deceived the other passengers, who thought the two were married. “There, I didn’t have to play my usual role. I didn’t have to be the mother of my children or the grandmother of my grandchildren. I was nobody’s neighbor, no one knew me. I could be silly if I wanted to,” she explained to the publication on the freedom she felt when approaching her current husband.
After five days in Gander, passengers were allowed to board. On the bus that would take her back to the plane, Diane says she was very sad to leave this experience behind and she took action: she kissed Nick. Since then, the two have not been separated.
Nick asked for his girlfriend’s hand in November 2001, two months after their meeting on 9/11. They got married exactly a year later and have been together until then. Their love has already inspired a Broadway musical, “Come from Away”.