It was on this day in 1989 that United Flight 232 crashed in Sioux City, Iowa.
The quote in the title was spoken by Hero Captain Al Haynes and was one of several calm communications from the cockpit as his DC-10 spiraled into Sioux City, Iowa. It was nothing short of a miracle that 185 survived the crash that claimed the lives of 111.
The event was unique in that from the time the emergency was declared at 3:16pm, emergency crews on the ground had 33 minutes to prepare for the arrival of the plane and that the crew in the cockpit was able to keep the plane in the air for the same amount of time. The link above has all the facts you might want to read about the event.
For the record, pilots using simulators duplicating what happened, have never been able to keep the plane “in the air” for more than a few minutes before it would crash.
At the time, I was the D-MORT (Disaster Mortuary Response Team) liaison from the NJ State Funeral Director’s Association to the NJ State Police Office of Emergency Management. We were a resource to the NJSP and neighboring states in the event of a MCI, (Mass-casualty Incident). It’s hard for me to believe that part of my life was over thirty years ago.
This was in the days when cell phones were just becoming widely used and pagers were more common. That is how we stayed connected. I started seeing NJSP messages on my alpha-numeric pager mentioning that two, NJSP Troopers and their wives had been on the flight. Sadly, All four perished.
Ultimately, the crash was used as a teaching tool for MCI’s and a video was created for the purpose. I still have my VHS version and maybe I’ll take a look at it this evening as it has been years since I have watched it.
The event serves as a reminder that when machines fail, hopefully there is a well-trained human or four to step into the breach.