Al Haynes, pilot of United Flight 232 and reluctant hero, dies 30 years after deadly crash in Iowa
| Aug. 27, 2019
| Des Moines Register – Somewhere over western Iowa, the No. 2 engine above the tail of United Airlines Flight 232 exploded on July 19, 1989.
Shrapnel sliced all the DC-10’s hydraulic lines, critical for flight control.
Capt. Alfred C. “Al” Haynes, the crippled aircraft’s pilot, and his crew eventually found a crude steering mechanism to keep the plane aloft by alternating thrust to both engines, keeping it in a slow, circling descent for more than 40 minutes.
Haynes worked with air traffic controllers to find a place to put the plane down, eventually deciding on Sioux City’s Gateway Airport. The plane crashed and exploded; 112 people died, but 184 lived.
The efforts of Haynes and his crew in the air and the unprecedented coordination of emergency services on the ground by Sioux City-area disaster personnel were credited with preventing an even greater catastrophe 30 years ago.
Haynes died Sunday in Seattle at age 87 after a brief illness. He spent the past three decades remembering those who died in the crash.
Devoted his time to PTSD victims, survivors, families
“On my mind forever will be the thoughts of the 112 who did not survive,” Haynes said in an email to the Des Moines Register in 2014, on the 25th anniversary of the crash.
Haynes rejected the title of hero and deferred credit to the flight attendants, whom he believed did not receive enough credit for saving lives in the crash’s aftermath, and to Gary Brown, the Woodbury County emergency management coordinator.
“He was the most humble man I’ve ever met in my life,” Brown, who became close friends with Haynes, told the Sioux City Journal on Sunday.
The plane broke into four sections. Dozens of wounded passengers could be seen walking out of the nearby cornfields.
Haynes spoke about the crash across the country and worked on aviation safety for the remainder of his career.