On July 19, 1989, United Airlines Flight 232 experienced a catastrophic hydraulic system failure over Iowa. UA232 with 296 souls on board was on a routine flight from Denver to Chicago and ultimately Philadelphia. Captain Al Haynes and three other pilots used engine thrust alone to maneuver the DC10 from a normal cruse altitude of 37,000 ft in descending loops to Sioux Gateway Airport where hundreds of Siouxland responders were waiting. Unbelievably 184 survived, many of them walking away; sadly 112 lives were lost.
The new exhibit visually tells the story of United Flight 232 and the heroic response. The exhibit includes period artifacts and is comprised of six main sections: 1) the entrance features Capt. Haynes seat, an aerial map tracking the spiraling flight of United 232, and Runway 22 markings on the floor; 2) collage of pictures from the 1987 emergency drill of a major airline crash, 3) a timeline and dramatic images of the event, 4) a movie viewing area, 5) a mural of a cornfield with all of the names of those lost that day, and 6) an image wall of the Thousand Heroes movie featuring Charlton Heston as Captain Haynes.
The outside garden area is at the threshold of Runway 22, the site of the crash. The garden is a line of 112 new plantings to honor each of those who died that day. A marker identifies the event and benches provide a private reflection area looking across the runway to the airfield.
Pam Mickelson, museum board member and Morningside College professor and chair of business administration says, “To build a new 232 exhibit right, we needed to involve community partners, incorporate an educational component and install before the 25th anniversary on July 19, 2014. By combining the experiences of first responders, ham radio operators and physicians with the expertise of art directors, designers and builders, we’ve really shared the whole story of Flight 232.” Funding for the project has been from in-kind services and gifts.
A project has been in the works since late 2012, Sioux City police Lt. Rex Mueller with input from Larry Finley, air museum director and Mickelson as well as George and LouAnn Lindblade, Christine McAvoy and Doug Potts, designed the new exhibit. Larry Finley added, “The human spirit of helping those in need received a magnificent boost on July 19, 1989, and in the days that followed. This exhibit makes sure we never forget.”