"I thought it was a bomb," said Flight 232 pilot about mid-air f - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

"I thought it was a bomb," said Flight 232 pilot about mid-air failure of tail engine


Before he boarded, United Airlines Flight 232 was just another in a long, and distinguished career for Captain Al Haynes. Denver to Philadelphia with a stopover in Chicago. Little did he know that the trip would forever change his life, and the lives of hundreds of Siouxlanders.

:All five of us thought the same thing... a bomb," said Capt. Al Haynes, Flight 232 Pilot. Not, a bomb. A bombshell for the airline industry. The failure of the fan disc in the tail engine shredded all three of the plane's hydraulic lines. A one-in-a-billion accident that cut all control of the DC-10. "I say on the cockpit voice recorder that I don't know if we can make the airport," Haynes said.

So, how do you fly without controls? Haynes' answer in somewhat tongue-in-cheek. "Luck," said Haynes. Haynes actually credits "teamwork" in the cockpit. "I try my best not to use the word "I because it was not an "I" thing," said Haynes. "The days of of "I" solving a problem are over. It has to be "we" solving the problem."

On July 19th, 1989, Haynes, first officer Bill Records, second officer Dudley Dvorak, and DC-10 instructor Denny Fitch, who was a passenger on board, worked as a team. "We were working as we had been trained to work together, although we didn't know how to do it," said Haynes.

They used throttles to adjust power to the remaining engines to turn. On approach, they throttled the engines one last time. "We added power... I say Denny added the power, to try and bring the nose up," said Haynes. "And, when the power went up, for some reason the number one engine spooled up faster than the right engine and lifted the left wing."

Haynes doesn't remember the crash. The first thing he can remember? "Waking up in the cockpit, with Denny, um, Dudley on top of me, and this terrible pressure I had on my back," said Haynes. "That impressed me. I thought, 'what is this, where's this coming from?'. Because, I'm in the air, and the next thing I know I'm on the ground in this mess with him on top of me."

His next memory is the most vivid, and the one that haunts him to this day. "I asked if everyone made it. And Dudley said, 'no'. And, I said, 'oh my God, I killed people'," said Haynes. Many on board Flight 232 know different. "A survivor was standing with EMTs, and they said, 'No, you didn't. You saved people.'"

184 people survived, including Haynes. Survivor's guilt has been the hardest for Haynes to deal with. "The guilt that you have is still there," said Haynes. "I've learned to accept it." For Haynes, talking about the crash has helped. He spoke to Iowa aviators, in Des Moines, in April. The title of the speech? "Teamwork in Crisis: The story of Flight 232" "It's therapy for me still... even 25 years later," said Haynes.

Haynes has learned another lesson talking about the tragedy. "And, finally, after much counseling, my psychiatrist and I came to the conclusion that maybe this is why I survived," said Haynes. "And, so I do it. And, I think it does some good."

Haynes will be in Sioux City for the events to mark the 25th anniversary of the crash of Flight 232, Friday. In fact, the whole flight crew will be back with one exception. Denny Fitch, the DC-10 instructor, who worked the throttles in the cockpit to steer the plane to Sioux City, died of cancer in 2010.


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