Al Haynes, United Pilot Who Saved 184 Lives in 1989 Crash, Dies at 87

A United Airlines 747 at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

By Paul Riegler on 27 August 2019
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Al Haynes, a United Airlines pilot who saved the lives of 184 people by guiding his damaged aircraft into an emergency landing near an Iowa airport, died at a Seattle-area hospital at the age of 87.

United Flight 232 was en route from Denver to Chicago on July 19, 1989, when the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 lost all hydraulic power after the aircraft’s rear engine exploded.

Using the trijet’s two remaining engines – and alternating thrust between them – he managed to put down the crippled airliner in a cornfield while heading towards Sioux City’s Gateway Airport.  The plane burst into flames and broke apart upon touching down, yet 184 of the 296 persons on board survived.

Captain Haynes became a somewhat reluctant hero for guiding the DC-10 towards the airport by keeping the aircraft aloft and making a series of 360° turns by alternating thrust between the two engines mounted on the underwing pylons.  He was lauded much in the manner that US Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger was in 2009 after he landed an Airbus 320 on New York’s Hudson River with no loss of life.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the crash of Flight 232 in 2014, Captain Haynes told the Des Moines Register he would always think of those who died in the crash.

“On my mind forever will be the thoughts of the 112 who did not survive,” he said.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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