The crash landing of United Flight 232 unfolded in Sioux City, Iowa in 1989 - 25 years ago this July. A commemorative weekend is scheduled on July 18, 19, and 20 reuniting the crew, survivors, families, and responders. The three days are designed to reflect on United 232’s crash-landing, to learn from and thank the Siouxland responders, and to honor those lost. All events are free and open to the public.
The routine flight from Denver to Chicago with a final leg to Philadelphia experienced a catastrophic engine failure over Northwest Iowa cutting all hydraulic controls in United’s DC10 jumbo jet. The captain and crew discovered a way to use engine thrust to circle the skies and in 45 minutes made their way to Sioux Gateway Airport. Incredibly, 184 survived a fiery landing, 138 of them walked away, 112 of the 296 passengers and crew died. Over 400 Siouxland first responders from 50 surrounding communities were ready to help and 100’s more in the area continued with random acts of kindness. The tragedy still remains one of the most gripping stories in aviation history.
On Friday, July 18 at the Orpheum Theatre Jim Wharton will lead a discussion with United Airlines Captain Al Haynes, Head Flight Attendant Jan Brown, Retired SC Fire Chief Bob Hamilton, Woodbury County Emergency Director Gary Brown, Briar Cliff Sr. Margaret Wick, St. Luke’s Surgeon Dr. Larry Foster, Mercy ER Physician Dr. David Greco, and Retired 185th Commander Dennis Swanstrom. Pierce Street in front of the theatre will be closed for any area responders who wish are invited to park their emergency vehicles.
Saturday, July 19 will begin with open houses at The Security Institute, Briar Cliff University, Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation, and the 232 Memorial at the Riverfront. The Security Institute located at the Western Iowa Tech campus was funded by a federal grant to give the region an emergency communications hub to help during disasters. LifeServe Blood Center is working with the Mayor’s Youth Commission to collect 232 pints of blood by July 19 – and will be on hand at the Institute, as well as the American Red Cross, and emergency response teams. Laurence Gonzales, author of the newly released book Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival will be on hand for book signings. Briar Cliff University will open the chapel and campus where families stayed immediately after the crash. The air museum is also open in the morning featuring the new Flight 232 exhibit and reflection garden.
A ceremony will begin at 2:30 in the afternoon at the Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation at 2600 Expedition Court. Visitors are encouraged to use Exit 141 on I29 and follow the air museum signs to avoid major road construction. Reverend Greg Clapper, retired chaplain of the 185th Air National Guard, will lead the afternoon ceremony. Iowa’s Governor Terry Branstad who was also governor in 1989, Mayor Bob Scott who served on the city council in 1989, Woodbury County Board of Supervisors chair George Boykin, retired Captain Al Haynes currently residing in Seattle, and survivor Jerry Schemmel of Denver will speak. Kevin Keane, Ron Demers, Sioux City Police Sergeant Mike Manthorne will provide special music. A joint color guard from the Sioux City Police, Sioux City Fire, Woodbury County Sheriff, and 185th ARW will open the afternoon ceremony. President John Reynders of Morningside College and President Beverly Wharton of Briar Cliff University will do a tribute to the 112 lives lost by reading their names. This will be the first time in 25 years that the names have been read. The ceremony will close with the crew laying a wreath in the new outdoors 232 Reflection Garden at the threshold of Runway 22. At 4:01, churches are being invited to ring their bells across the Siouxland area in honor of the time United Flight 232 touched down.
On Sunday morning, Morningside Lutheran Church and Pastor Darrin Vick will host an ecumenical service on the riverfront at the Anderson Dance Pavilion. Reverend Greg Clapper will preach and Reverend Marvin Boes will do the readings. Guests are asked to park at Bev’s on the River and use a shuttle that will be on hand. The service will conclude by walking over to the 232 Memorial. Artist Dale Lamphere of Sturgis, SD will be present.