Alfred C. Haynes

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Alfred C. "Al" Haynes
Born (1931-08-31) August 31, 1931 (age 85)
Paris, Texas
Occupation Airline pilot
Children Laurie Haynes-Arguello

Alfred C. "Al" Haynes (born August 31, 1931 in Paris, Texas) is a former airline pilot and a regular guest speaker at social events. Haynes gained international fame in 1989, when he, together with the rest of his crew and Dennis E. Fitch, a United DC-10 flight instructor who was a passenger on the flight, limited the loss of life by crash-landing United Airlines Flight 232, a damaged DC-10 jetliner, at Sioux City Airport.


Haynes graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, in Dallas,[1] in 1948, and then attended Texas A&M University, where he became a member of the university's corps of cadets. Subsequently he entered Navy flight training and was commissioned a Marine Corps aviator. In 1956 Haynes completed his military service and joined United Airlines, eventually climbing up the airline's pilots' ranks until he became a captain. He began flying for United as a Boeing 727 first officer, and was later promoted to DC-8 and DC-10 first officer, before becoming a captain on the Boeing 727. Haynes later became a DC-10 captain. As a pilot for United, Haynes was based at Seattle, Washington for virtually his entire 35-year career.[2]

On July 19, 1989, Haynes became famous for his role in the events during a DC-10 flight headed to Chicago, Illinois from Denver, Colorado. With Haynes as captain, the airliner suffered damage to its number two (center) engine which caused all three of its hydraulic control systems to fail—an unprecedented problem that made the aircraft nearly impossible to fly or land. Captain Haynes, first officer William Records, flight engineer Dudley Dvorak, and Fitch (an off-duty flight instructor who had been a passenger on the flight but came forward to offer his help) figured out how to gain some control of the plane. They were eventually able to get the severely disabled airliner to the Sioux City, Iowa airport, where they crash-landed. A portion of the fuselage ended up in an adjoining corn field. Although there were 111 fatalities, a remarkable 185 people survived the crash.[3]

Haynes kept his sense of humor during the emergency, as recorded on the plane's CVR:

Fitch: I'll tell you what, we'll have a beer when this is all done.
Haynes: Well I don't drink, but I'll sure as shit have one.[4]

and later:

Sioux City Approach: United Two Thirty-Two Heavy, the wind's currently three six zero at one one; three sixty at eleven. You're cleared to land on any runway.
Haynes: [laughter] Roger. [laughter] You want to be particular and make it a runway, huh?

A more serious remark often quoted from Haynes was made when ATC asked the crew to make a left turn to keep them clear of the city:

Whatever you do, keep us away from the city.

After the crash, Haynes continued as an airline pilot until his mandatory retirement in 1991. Several United 232 survivors flew as passengers on his final flight as an airline pilot. Haynes received major media attention when Charlton Heston played him in a 1992 movie A Thousand Heroes. The story of Flight 232 was famous worldwide, and Haynes started speaking about it at lunches and meetings. He also became a post traumatic stress disorder speaker and emergency situations trainer.

In 1990 he was inducted into the Woodrow Wilson High School Hall of Fame. In 1991 The Honourable Company of Air Pilots honoured Haynes with the Hugh Gordon-Burge Memorial Award.[5]

In 1996, his oldest son died after a motorcycle accident, and his wife died in 1999.[6] His daughter Laurie Haynes-Arguello (born 1964) gained media attention in 2001 when she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. By 2003, her disease was in an advanced stage and she required a bone marrow transplant.[7] Because his daughter's insurance would not cover the operation, Al Haynes needed help from the Air Line Pilots Association, which donated money and brought the Haynes' monetary plight to light. Many survivors of Flight 232 found out about the case and they also helped raise money. Eventually, his daughter was able to get the transplant.


  1. ^ Wilonsky, Robert. "Woodrow Wilson High School Grad Al Haynes" (Archived 2015-09-29 at WebCite). Dallas Observer. Friday February 6, 2008. Retrieved on September 29, 2015.
  2. ^ Paul Godfrey (September 29, 1999). "Profile: Al Haynes". AVweb. Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-08. 
  3. ^ AirDisaster.Com: Special Report: United Airlines Flight 232
  4. ^ "Black Box - A Wing and a Prayer (1996)". YouTube. Retrieved 20 October 2016. 
  5. ^ The Gordon-Burge Memorial Award - THCAP
  6. ^ Gates, Dominic (July 19, 2009). "20 years ago, pilot's heroic efforts saved 185 people as plane crashed". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  7. ^ "Hero Pilot Trying To Help Save Daughter's Life". KIRO TV, Seattle. December 11, 2003. Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-08. 

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