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Sioux City Remembers Captain Al Haynes, Flight 232 Pilot Who Died Sunday

Iowa National Guard cameramen
Impact zone at Sioux City's Gateway Airport.

People in Sioux City are remembering the life of Captain Al Haynes, the pilot of United Airlines Flight 232 that crash-landed there 30 years ago. Haynes died Sunday in Seattle from a brief illness.
Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation director Larry Finley considered the 87-year old retired pilot a friend. He remembers Haynes saying he didn’t know where Sioux City was until he crash-landed the DC-10 plane there.

“But, ‘so happy’, [Haynes] says, ‘that that was the airport we picked,’ he says, ‘because of the fact that a lot of great people volunteered their time to respond to that disaster’. And he says ‘your community was definitely prepared from the aspect of having disaster drills in the past'," said Finley, reflecting on a conversation he had with Haynes.

On July 19, 1989, Haynes steered the plane toward Sioux Gateway Airport after it experienced a hydraulic failure. Emergency services from Sioux City and many area rescue units were at the scene waiting to help. The crash killed 112 people, but 184 survived.

Credit Courtesy of George R. Lindblade
Captain Al Haynes, who piloted United Airlines flight 232 in 1989, died at the age of 87.

Finley and others, like Woodbury County Emergency Services Director Gary Brown, say Haynes didn’t like to call himself a hero.

Al was a true professional, but more than anything he was a humble individual,” Brown said. “He never liked the title of hero associated with his name. He always gave full credit to his other crew members and the flight attendants that helped save so many lives that day.”

Brown got to know Haynes after the 1989 crash and considered him a good friend.

Brown said the last time Haynes visited Sioux City, to his knowledge, was five years ago, for the 25th anniversary of the flight 232 crash.

“He considered our Siouxland community sort of his second home,” Brown said. “Every chance he got to tell the people of Siouxland ‘thank you’ again, he did.”

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.