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By Nathan Bierma

Content & Context

The Books & Culture Weblog

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BANGOR, Maine — This city of 32,000 is used to diverted flights. Nestled in the northeastern corner of the country, Bangor International has made a cottage industry of taking in flights that run into the trouble over the Atlantic. It has a runway more than two miles long, a U.S. attorney's office and FBI agents who live within minutes of the terminal. For airline pilots, the combination makes Bangor a favorite unscheduled landing spot. The incidents are so common that local nurses say they often treat patients from the diverted flights: an assaulted flight attendant, a heart attack victim, a woman in labor. … Bangor International also plays a small supporting role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as flights ferrying troops to and from the Middle East often stop here to refuel and allow service members to make a quick call home. Many remember their touchdown here fondly because it is the last or first chance they have to step on U.S. soil.


Nathan Bierma is editorial assistant at Books & Culture. He writes the weekly "On Language" column for the Chicago Tribune.

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