SIOUX CITY | In the pavement outside the Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation is a gash where Flight 232 slammed to the ground in July 1989.

It’s a permanent reminder of the disaster. Now the museum is getting a new way to recall the crash, as the 25th anniversary of the emergency approaches.

Work started Wednesday on a permanent exhibit and memorial garden in the 2600 Expedition Drive museum that will chronicle Flight 232 and Siouxland’s outpouring of support.

On July 19, 1989, the United Airlines DC-10 with 296 passengers and crew flying from Denver to Chicago crash-landed at Sioux Gateway Airport. Killed were 112. More than 400 agencies responded to the disaster.

The wreck is still fresh in the memory of the public, said Larry Finley, executive director of the museum, housed on 15 acres just north of the airfield.

"There has not been a week that this museum hasn't had someone come in and ask about United Flight 232," he said.

The 30,000-square-foot building is filled with historic planes, vehicles and other transportation relics. About 200 square feet is dedicated to Flight 232, including newspaper clippings, photos and a theater.

The expanded version will have 1,800 square feet and a vinyl map showing the path the plane took backtracking across Northwest Iowa after an engine malfunction. A timeline of key events and a display showing the conversation between Capt. Al Haynes and control tower personnel will be added.

Other elements include a listing of the 112 people killed in the crash and up to 50 photos. The theater will be expanded and uniforms of the crew and emergency responders will be added.

Finley said the exhibit will expand if new items are received. Some pieces of the plane were found as recently as 2012.

"We continue to get artifacts in, items from the aircraft, bits and pieces," he said.

The memorial garden is designed for visitors and people connected with the crash to reflect about the event. The garden will be very close to the touchdown point of United 232 on old Runway 22. Concrete will be ripped away and plants will be added to make the garden.

"The garden area will be a reverent and uplifting place," said Museum Board of Directors member Pam Mickelson.

Construction will cost at least $50,000. The nonprofit museum is raising money for the project. 

Mickelson said it’s important to create a substantial exhibit to tell the story of the jumbo jet crash. It will honor the many people involved that day and the days after.

Finley said they hope work will finish by July 1. Events commemorating the 25th anniversary of the crash will take place July 18-20. 

Finley said Haynes and other flight personnel began inquiring about two years ago to see if Sioux City would hold a 25th anniversary commemoration. A committee is coordinating activities, which will be held across the city. 

"The crew wants to come back," Finley said, "and thank the community one more time."

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County & Education Reporter

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