Flight 232 30th honored at the air museum
Written by Pamela L. Mickelson, President of the Board of directors, MAMAT
It’s been 30 years, but for many it was yesterday. Some believe it was when we became known as Siouxland, while others believe July 19, 1989 was one of those days that Siouxland was at her very best. Most will remember it as a day of miracles.
The air museum will host an Open House on July 19, 2019 in honor of that fateful day.
Captain Al Haynes and his crew believed no other place could have responded as Siouxlanders did for his crippled United Airlines Flight 232. A flight from Denver to Chicago had many vacationers and young families.
Souls on board? Captain Haynes explained to the air traffic controller he carried 296 souls aboard the DC10. A major hydraulic system had failed over Northwest Iowa on his flight at 30,000 feet. A miracle that the crew (including one flying as a passenger) could manage to get the DC10 to descend in a circle pattern to find the Sioux Gateway Airfield. A miracle that the airfield was a military base with long runways that were suitable for a DC10 with gated parameters and military first responders. A miracle that just two years prior, emergency management crews in the Siouxland area drilled for a major catastrophe – an airline crash at Sioux Gateway Airport. A miracle that 184 survived.
July 19, 2019 marks the 30th year since that day. You may want to take time to ask some Siouxlanders what they remember from 1989. You don’t have to go very far to find a nurse, a doctor, a dentist, a Red Cross volunteer, a blood donor, a college administrator, a ham operator, a volunteer EMS crew or fire fighter from all three states and 20 some counties. One estimate was that 1000 individuals came to the call to help that day. A miracle? Or just what Siouxland does.
Families, crew members, survivors, pilots, first responders are among those who come to the air museum each week to see the exhibit dedicated during the 25th anniversary of the crash of Flight 232. The exhibit tells the story, honors the souls lost that day, the 184 saved and those who fought to save them. Two other places in Sioux City pay tribute to the crash as well. A beautiful bronze statue of a first responder carrying a young boy is in a garden on the riverfront next to the Anderson Dance Pavilion. And an exhibit at the public museum has a video on disaster and recovery.
Larry Finley, Executive Director of the air museum said “The exhibit is the only display of the crash and the response. It continues to have interest. At least one visitor a week representing first responders, families of the survivors or those deceased stops in to see the display.”
Flight attendant Susan White, one of the original crew members is based and still flying for United out of Denver. Last summer Susan and her fiancé, Derek Fitch, visited Sioux City and the air museum. She was so touched “To see the 232-exhibit memorializing this unforgettable event in aviation history. We were both moved to tears. It’s especially meaningful to have this at the Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation in Sioux City because of the impact all the responders had on the survivors’ lives. I’m forever grateful for all the people in Siouxland”
On July 19, the museum will host an open house. Hours will be 10:00 – 7:00 pm. Coffee will be available in the evening and the event is free and open to the public. A free will offering will be accepted to support the continued upkeep of the 232 exhibits at the museum. The air museum is located on the northeast corner of the airfield, just off Harbor Drive at 2600 Expedition Ct. Sioux City. Susan White of Denver is hosting a small private gathering of the 232 families and will join the air museum via Facebook Live during the evening.
The 232 exhibits and the point of impact on Runway 22 just outside the building gives all of us pause, and a reason to remember the miracles of one hot July afternoon 30 years ago.