1989 Plane Crash

5 08 2009

Some of you may know that I work as a contractor for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). I think it’s pretty cool working not only for a government agency, but one that deals with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Plus, I have always liked the Air and Space Museum! 

About once a month, an article is highlighted on the FAA Employee website about a special moment in FAA history, a featured employee, or some other note-worthy subject dealing with the FAA. This month, the article entitled, “Twenty Years Later, Controllers Remember the Crash” is about an airplane crash that happened on July 19, 1989. The article is written about a controller in the control tower where the airplane had to make an emergency landing. This man, Will Bachman, was working a Sioux Gateway Airport in Iowa at the time of the airplane crash.

The crash was one of the most horrific crashes in plane crash history. According to Google Video (because, yes, there is a video of this), “United Airlines Flight 232 was a scheduled flight operated by United Airlines between Denver and Philadelphia via Chicago.” Among the 300 passengers, 189 survived and 111 were killed. The date of the crash, United Airlines was having a special deal for children who were flying that day. Children could fly for only a penny if they were accompanied by a paying adult. As you can imagine, there was an abnormally high percentage of children in the skies that day, and the fated Flight 232 was no exception.

You can watch a very interesting video about the terrible airplane crash, although it’s a decently long video.

A brief explanation of the cause of the crash, according the the article on the FAA site is as follows: 

“An investigation determined that a 13mm fatigue crack in the fan disk of the No. 2 engine fractured mid-flight. The shrapnel from the exploded titanium disk severed the three hydraulic lines, leaving the pilots barely in control.

The plane could only make right turns. There was no rudder or elevator control, and the only way it was able to fly straight was by using an old pilot’s trick called differential thrust, setting one engine faster than the other.

It’s pretty amazing that anyone survived the crash, especially more than half of the people on board. The fatal crash happened a little more than 20 years ago and I think it’s an important and tragic event in history. I totally recommend that you watch the video I included. I also hope this story doesn’t frighten you about flying in the future. [This post was not meant to scare you, but to inform you!]




3 responses

5 08 2009
Good timing

I’m going to abstain from watching the video, as I have a couple pretty long flights in a few days…but interesting, albeit tragic, I guess?

5 08 2009

At least this happened two decades ago. But yes. You’ll have to watch the video when you get back……eventually.

23 09 2013

Anyone coming here through googling UA232 and wanting to watch the video (Which isnt available from this page anymore), this one covers it pretty well:

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