The pilot of United Airlines Flight 232 is returning to Sioux City this weekend. Captain Al Haynes and his crew were praised for their actions on July 19, 1989 when the passenger plane, bound from Denver to Chicago, crashed in a corn field near the Sioux Gateway Airport. Although 112 people were killed, the flight crew’s actions helped 184 people survive the crash.

Haynes says the event changed the way emergency personnel respond and prepare for disasters. “The incident in Sioux City and the response by the medical department, by Mercy Air, changed the whole response system just about all over the world,” Haynes said.

“The emergency response people, the reaction times, the communications…they’ve changed and that’s all been because of 232 and Sioux City.” Haynes lost all flight controls when 232’s tail-mounted engine failed. He’s returning to Sioux City to help Mercy Air Care celebrate 25 years of service.

Haynes says five factors helped 184 people survive the crash of Flight 232. “Those are luck, communication, preparation, execution and cooperation. Those things fell together for us,” Haynes said.

“I encourage people to try and put those things together in their home life and business life to see if they can’t make things work out better.” Since retiring as a commercial pilot, Haynes travels and gives motivational speeches about the crash and his experiences. Haynes will speak at the Marina Inn in South Sioux City at 6 p.m. Saturday.

He’ll be flown to the Marina Inn in Mercy’s E-C 135 helicopter. One of the other guests on board with be Dr. David Greco, who founded Mercy Air Care and was one of the emergency responders to Flight 232. Dr. Greco now resides in California.

By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City