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TOP STORIES OF '14: The 25th anniversary of Flight 232 crash
Top Stories of '14

TOP STORIES OF '14: The 25th anniversary of Flight 232 crash


SIOUX CITY | As United Airlines Flight 232 headed toward Chicago on July 19, 1989, a loud explosion ripped through the aircraft.

Not a bomb but something almost as damaging. The tail engine on the DC-10 airliner had exploded. Debris from the engine severed the hydraulic lines, cutting power to the flaps, rudders and all other mechanisms needed to fly an airplane.

The 25th anniversary of the crash is the Journal's No. 6 story of 2014.

On that fateful day, Capt. Al Haynes and the crew attempted to land the aircraft as best they could.

When Flight 232 crashed at Sioux Gateway Airport, it left a deep impact on Siouxland and those who survived: 184 lived, 112 died.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the crash earlier this year, members of the flight crew, passengers and their families returned to Sioux City for a time of reflection and remembrance. Several events were planned from July 18-20.

On the first day, 50 emergency vehicles lined up on Pierce Street near the Orpheum Theatre on a Friday night to show how many agencies came together to help after the crash.

A full crowd came to the Orpheum Theatre to hear a panel composed of flight crew members and emergency personnel discuss "what happened, what we learned and how it has helped others" on the 25th anniversary of the crash.

The panel included Haynes, head flight attendant Jan Brown and Dennis Swanstrom, the 185th Air National Guard commander at the time. The crowd heard audio from the cockpit voice recorder. Before the plane crash-landed, Haynes told control tower personnel, "I have serious doubts of making the airport."

Other events included open houses and tours of locations that were pivotal in Flight 232 history, such as Briar Cliff University, where survivors took sanctuary, and the runway where Flight 232 crashed. A quiet close to the 25th anniversary was held at the Spirit of Siouxland memorial in Chris Larsen Park.

On the day of the crash, hundreds of first responders from around Siouxland were at the airport waiting to help. Medical personnel flocked to the city's two hospitals. A line of people waiting to donate to the blood bank stretched down the street.

Brown, the head flight attendant on Flight 232, said the opportunity to return to Sioux City to remember friends she lost and reconnect with those she met through the disaster was extremely emotional, with feelings of joy, loss, gratitude and sadness.

She said the hurt remains but that those lost will never be forgotten.


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Haynes never considered himself a hero, choosing instead to give credit to his crew, said Woodbury County emergency management director Gary Brown, who served in that capacity at the time of the crash and grew to consider Haynes a "great friend."

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