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When the title said impossible landing. I didn't realize it literally meant impossible landing.
Everyone on that aircraft was as good as dead the moment that engine came apart. In my view, what Captain Haines and his crew did was to wrestle 185 lives back from the jaws of death.
Denny Fitch, despite the incredible achievement of landing a severely crippled plane and saving 185 lives that almost certainly were doomed, was tormented for the rest of his life about the 111 lives that were lost, and blamed himself for it. He regularly deflected any notion that he was a hero.
It is my understanding that in the years following this crash,many pilots in flight simulators programmed with flight 232's problems,all failed the exercise & crashed. When Al Haynes & his crew did the seemingly impossible, they definitely earn the right to be called heros forever.
My mind is blown that these guys were not only able to get some minor control of such a disabled aircraft but actually get it to an airport in such uncontrollable condition. My mind can't even comprehend it. I mean, it's one thing to get it down to the ground, but the fact that they were able to steer it to an airport and more or less drop it on a runway with absolutely nothing but control over two engines and driving it like a tank. Pure insanity. I'm almost convinced that what helped bring the plane down to the ground was the weight of the steel balls of the flight crew.
The one, singular, change I would make to this would be a relatively minor, but notable, point of phrasing. Rather than "111 are killed," ... "185 survived". Faced with loss of controls at that scale, that's very likely 185 people that wouldn't have lived to see another day.
"You want to be particular and make it a runway, huh?"
The men in that cockpit were clearly all of exceptional character. I'm certain that every one of them knew that their chances of surviving were lower than their passengers, yet the man most responsible for the landing wasn't even buckled in. I'd be surprised if anyone in that cockpit thought they would ever see another day.
A bit more background material:
My boss from work was on this flight. Her daughters saw the plane crash on the news and it was quite a while before they found out that she had survived with hardly any injuries. She flew home from this crash which amazed me so much. I would have walked home to Chicago before I would have ever got on another airplane. Cannot believe so many people survived such a terrible crash.
Given the circumstances, that Haynes and his crew managed to get this thing in the vicinity of an airport and save the majority of the crew and passengers this is one of the most remarkable chapters in the history of aviation - it was one helluva an achievement.
United pilot here: I actually had the pleasure of flying a trip with Denny, on the B757 where he was my captain out of Chicago OHare. What an honor to have worked with Denny, who was gracious enough to recount the story with me during a layover. We've used UAL232 many times as a case study in the early days of CRM (crew resource management) to help guide and improve how we operate today.
In NW Indiana....Our plumbing shop did work for a woman who was paralyzed in this crash.She said her husband next to her was killed instantly.We redid plumbing to comply with ADA specs in this house she purchased and one day while eating lunch.....she told us about how she became injured.Thus telling us about this crash.I had heard about it on the news....but when she told us about the passengers trying to keep it together....praying....crying...praying together....I just thought......WOW.....
They wouldn't have landed that plane at all without Denny Fitch. Amazing that he chose that flight. All of these men were brilliantly skilled and just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. They saved as many lives as they were able to. This story is always awe-inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.
I just happened to see this. My good friend Ken died on that crash. We grew up together and lived across the street from each other.
This was a fantastic example or superior ARI MANSHIP. These men kept their heads and used all of the available resources they had at hand and in doing so kept casualties to a minimum. When I fly with pilots new to the airline industry I give them the same advice given to me over 39 yrs ago. This also applies to life. " don't focus on what you don't have ,but focus on what you DO have and how can you use"
This video is very well done. Thanks for making it, man.
This dry account ignores the massive physical exertion required to fly a DC-10 with NO HYDRAULICS. They needed all 4 men for sure.
It should also be noted that Captain Fitch, the off duty pilot on board, was studying about the Japan Airlines 123 incident, which happened a few years ago. It involved the similar situation in which a B747 lost all its hydraulic controls due to a bulkhead breach, resulting in complete loss of controls on all control surfaces as well as the entire tailfin itself. Captain Fitch was studying about ways to maintain control of the aircraft when the hydraulic controls are completely lost, and without him and his knowledge the incident would have been incomparably disastrous than it was.
That crew had the 'Right Stuff'. Lots more would have died if not for them.