After all the trials and tribulations we were actually airborne. Everyone was seated in his or her allotted place. There was plenty of room and leg space, and all seemed pleased with their neighbors. The first impressive moment was when Rabbi Unsdorfer read the tefilas haderech aloud in Hebrew, and then the English translation. Many of the passengers felt greatly reassured, and all settled down for a pleasant flight to New York.

After traveling for an hour-and-a-half, we landed at Shannon Airport, Ireland, in order to refuel for our long haul to Gander, Newfoundland, Canada,  which would be eight hours flying time away. Everyone dashed for the duty-free shops to buy cigarettes, liquor and perfume. The plane was supposed to leave at 4:00, which gave us two hours in Shannon, so meanwhile we davened mincha in the lounge.

I wondered why we remained in Shannon for two hours, when we had only flown for an hour-and-a-half. I discovered later that while in Ringway Airport in Manchester, a forklift truck had crashed into the plane whilst loading up our baggage, and had made a small hole in the fuselage. They were now trying to patch this up.

We left on time, but it was 4:15 before we could unfasten our seat belts and relax. It was over eight hours since most of us had eaten. We were famished, and I could see that it would take the three stewardesses over an hour to serve the 118 passengers. I conscripted my daughter Hindy, David Kessler, Harold Glickman, Martin Weinberg, Irvin Landau and Mr. Ravits to assist in “Operation Hunger Relief,” and in ten minutes all had received their luscious food parcels. Rabbi Unsdorfer made the official hamotzie, and everyone praised the sumptuous and plentiful food. Fortunately, I had warned the stewardesses to serve black coffee only. (We did, however, receive a complaint from someone who was refused milk for her eleven-month-old baby who made up the 119th passenger.) After lunch, we had communal bentching, everyone using their own bentchers, and singing with gusto and kavono.

I then announced that Dayan Golditch would give a shiur on Tanya in ENGLISH! [In 1961, the Tanya had not yet been translated into English and it was not too often one could participate in an English class on Tanya.] Here the stewardesses interrupted and asked the members to please fasten their seatbelts. A storm was expected - but it seems that when it saw a planeload of Lubavitcher chassidim it ran away. Rabbi Spector then treated us to a talk on the sedra, followed by chumash and Rashi by Rabbi Unsdorfer. Tehillim, niggunim and other songs followed. It was remarkable that with such a diversity of characters - twelve rabbonim, men and women, boys and girls, orthodox and not so orthodox, they should all unite and combine together to form one happy family and group of people, all interested in each other and forming and cementing friendships. Only one person complained. He said it was worse than Yom Kippur, when at least one could open the door and leave the shul!

The crew and stewardesses were wonderful. They said they had never had such a happy group of people and it was a lovely experience for them. Afterwards, when I offered them a tip, they refused it. They were not allowed to accept gratuities, but if we insisted on giving them money, they would be honored if we would accept it back - for our synagogue.

We stopped at Gander, Newfoundland to daven maariv - that wasn't the real reason! - and we settled down for the last five-hour journey to Idelwild, New York [now called JFK]. The small hole made by the forklift back in Manchester had affected the air conditioning, and it was now becoming uncommonly hot and stuffy. We had “drunk the plane dry.” Not even a drop of water was to be had. I walked to the front of the plane and, looking along the length of the plane, all I could discern was a sea of red, flushing and perspiring faces, some gasping for air. The coolest place was in the rear. Crowds congregated there, talking and chatting. The Captain kept sending urgent messages, “the plane is dragging due to the additional weight at the back, and it is dangerous.”

My watch showed 6:30 but it was actually only 1:30 a.m. New York time when we arrived there - eighteen-and-a-half hours journey, twenty-one hours since we left our homes.

The plane door was opened and we all filed out, to be greeted by a “heavenly choir” singing Uforatzto and other niggunim. The railing on the roof of the terminal building was lined with over 100 men and boys chanting a welcome. One stewardess was so moved by this reception that she burst into tears. We literally danced our way through immigration and customs and everyone crowded into the buses, which were lined up outside the airport.