September 20, 2018

Winnipeg
9° C, Light rain

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Pilot still tears up at Come From Away

Was surprised to learn role 'was so prominent' in hit musical

PHIL HOSSACK / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Beverley Bass (centre) talks with theatregoers on Thursday. Bass piloted a plane that landed in Gander, N.L., when the twin towers came down on 9/11 and has attended every opening night of Come From Away.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / Winnipeg Free Press

Beverley Bass (centre) talks with theatregoers on Thursday. Bass piloted a plane that landed in Gander, N.L., when the twin towers came down on 9/11 and has attended every opening night of Come From Away.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/1/2018 (251 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s one thing to be the real-life inspirations in the musical Come From Away.

It is quite another to hear your own personal history summarized in a song composed by the play’s writers David Hein and Irene Sankoff.

That was the experience of Beverley Bass, who, well before the events of 9/11, had a claim to history as the first female captain to pilot for American Airlines in 1986.

Since retired, Bass became a part of cultural history as one of the more significant characters in the Tony Award-winning Come From Away — an American Airlines pilot whose flight from Paris to Dallas-Fort. Worth was diverted to Gander, N.L., when American airspace was closed after two passenger jets flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 60 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 60 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 60 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/1/2018 (251 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s one thing to be the real-life inspirations in the musical Come From Away.

It is quite another to hear your own personal history summarized in a song composed by the play’s writers David Hein and Irene Sankoff.

That was the experience of Beverley Bass, who, well before the events of 9/11, had a claim to history as the first female captain to pilot for American Airlines in 1986.

Since retired, Bass became a part of cultural history as one of the more significant characters in the Tony Award-winning Come From Away — an American Airlines pilot whose flight from Paris to Dallas-Fort. Worth was diverted to Gander, N.L., when American airspace was closed after two passenger jets flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

The Winnipeg debut of the musical brought Bass and her husband, Tom Stawicki, to the official opening Thursday, and on an afternoon visit to the theatre, she recalled the moment she first learned of the existence of the song Me and the Sky.

"It was at the opening night in La Jolla in the summer of 2015," she recalls. "I’m seeing this show for the first time and I had no idea there was a song that literally chronicled my entire flying life in four minutes and 19 seconds.

PHIL HOSSACK / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Claude Elliott (left), who was mayor of Gander, N.L., during 9/11, chats with theatre impresario David Mirvish at the opening of Come From Away.</p></p>

PHIL HOSSACK / Winnipeg Free Press

Claude Elliott (left), who was mayor of Gander, N.L., during 9/11, chats with theatre impresario David Mirvish at the opening of Come From Away.

"I could not believe it," she says. "I didn’t know my role was so prominent in the show. It was all a total surprise."

It’s not that Bass didn’t know a musical was in the works. When she and her husband went to Gander to observe the 10th anniversary of 9/11, she met with Sankoff and Hein for what she assumed might be another brief media interview.

"When we got there, there were all kinds of interviews with news people and they were all looking for a five-second sound bite for the evening news.

"Then I learned that there were two playwrights in town and they wanted to do an interview, and of course I said yes," she recalls. "Well, that interview lasted four hours.

"We don’t know a lot about the theatre business, so after the events of the 10th anniversary, we just flew home and we really never thought about it again."

Seeing the story told from that perspective gave Bass an insight into the events depicted in the play while seated next to her husband.

"There’s a moment where my character calls her husband and says, ‘I’m fine, Tom.’

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Beverly Bass, an American Airlines pilot during 9/11 portrayed in Come from Away. </p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Beverly Bass, an American Airlines pilot during 9/11 portrayed in Come from Away.

"He just buried his head in his hands and we’re just sobbing through the whole show," she says.

"What I realized was that day was really much harder on him than it was on me," she says. "Because I had a job to do. I had an airplane to manage. I had 156 passengers and I had a flight crew of 15. I was on duty.

"He was at home not knowing where I was and he couldn’t even call me. No one had cellphones. Our children were eight and nine and they had their school locked down. He had to go home and pick up the kids. They eventually learned that I had landed, but they had no idea where.

"So the day was much harder for him," she says. "I was just dealing minute by minute, hour by hour with the situation at hand."

Bass has attended every opening of the play since that première in La Jolla and more besides. Wednesday night at Royal Manitoba Theatre Company "was 91 times for me to see the show," she says.

"Every time I see it, it’s like the first time. I still tear up at certain parts," she says. "My husband cries every single time and he’s seen it about 87 times."

To Bass, the show is an ideal way to handle the trauma of the attacks with a story that emphasizes the positive.

PHIL HOSSACK / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Theatregoers pose with fishermen’s rain hats (Sou’westers).</p></p>

PHIL HOSSACK / Winnipeg Free Press

Theatregoers pose with fishermen’s rain hats (Sou’westers).

"There’s been enough time since 9/11 that people can now wrap their brain around the thought of going to a show because we call it a 9/12 show as opposed to 9/11," she says. "It’s really about the generosity and kindness that was bestowed after the attacks.

"For me, it’s about the people who are able to go see it who have a closeness to 9/11 that maybe not all of us did — people who lost friends or relatives in the towers or the airplanes," she says. "We have a young man who’s a friend of ours.

"He’s a new pilot with American and I invited him to the show in Washington, D.C.," she says. "His father was the co-pilot on our (American Airlines) airplane that hit the north tower.

"I don’t think you could be any more closely connected than he was," she says. "He was 15 years old when he lost his dad in the attacks and he was very excited about coming, and the day he got there, I really started getting cold feet because I thought maybe it’s too much for him to handle.

"But it was so good, and the nicest thing he said to me was: ‘Thank you for inviting me. It gave me a chance to heal a little bit.’

"There is a line in the show, where I say: ‘A pilot will fight till the ends of the Earth to save his airplane. He just will.’ And that young man said to me that that was the most profound moment in the show for him. He said: ‘I knew that’s what my dad was doing.’"

Come From Away is playing to sold-out houses at RMTC until Feb. 3.

randall.king@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

History

Updated on Friday, January 12, 2018 at 8:24 AM CST: Adds photos

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.