WMU News

Pilot tells extraordinary tale of Flight 232

March 16, 2004

BATTLE CREEK Mich.--Capt. Al Haynes, who crash landed a totally crippled passenger plane in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1989, saving more than half of the 296 passengers and crew aboard, will speak at Battle Creek's Kellogg Auditorium at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 17.

Western Michigan University's College of Aviation is bringing Haynes to town to tell his story and relate the accident and the lessons learned to his views on flight safety, cockpit and cabin crew training and communications training.

Haynes, a 35-year veteran of United, was at the controls of a Denver-to-Chicago flight July 19, 1989, when a mid-air catastrophic failure of one engine disabled all of the aircraft's hydraulic systems, leaving the crew with no flight controls. In what aviation experts have called a miraculous combination of luck, training, communication skills and cooperation, Haynes and his crew flew 70 miles to land at Sioux City's Gateway Airport and set the plane down on a runway, using only the throttle controls to effect a controlled descent. The flight ended in a fiery crash when the plane touched down, killing 112. Haynes and 183 others survived, and the heroic action of crew, passengers and Sioux City emergency workers has been the subject of several books and a 1999 television movie, "Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232."

Post-flight investigations and subsequent simulator tests showed that other DC-10 crews were unable to repeat the effort of the crew of Flight 232. Investigators concluded that, in its damaged condition, it was not possible to land the aircraft on a runway. As a result, crew members were highly praised for managing to put the aircraft down just off the runway centerline and saving as many lives as they did. The International Flight Safety Foundation awarded Haynes and his crew the organization's first President's Citation for valor following the incident.

Haynes, now 71, has dedicated himself since the accident to using the lessons learned on Flight 232 as a teaching tool. He has spoken to more than 1,000 audiences since the accident. Tickets for his talk are $5 each and will be available at the door.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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