United Airlines  Flight 232
Grace Sobolewski

'Total loss' were the thoughts as the flight crew and emergency personal on the ground prepared for the crash landing of United Airlines flight 232. From a series of unfortunate events, a DC-10 was going to make an emergency landing in Sioux City, Iowa.

The flight took off at 2:09 pm from Stapleton International Airport in Denver, Colorado and was headed to O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. It was July 19, 1989 and it was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky; however around an hour into the flight, Captain Haynes was faced with the hardest situation of his life. At around 3:16, the aircraft was making a turn when the fan disk of the second engine failed and broke off. Shrapnel punctured all three hydraulics systems and from that point on, autopilot switched off and Captain Haynes was manually flying the plan, with virtually no control. Coincidentally, there was DC-10 instructor Dennis Fitch on board the aircraft and offered his assistance to the flight attendant in first class.  Captain Haynes immediately requested Fitch in the cockpit and Fitch assessed the situation and made it clear that he was not trained to handle this type of situation. They both knew it would take the two of them to land this plane so Fitch remained in the cockpit.

"It became abundantly clear to me that dear God I have 296 lives on my two hands."

Dennis Fitch

Captain Haynes put out engine one and put engine three at max power to keep the right wing of the aircraft from tipping.  Once Air Traffic Control gave the clear for the landing, Haynes and Fitch desperately tried to reach their target; Sioux Gateway Airport.

Crashing down without landing gear, at double the safe landing speed, the DC-10 split into 4 pieces as the right wing finally went down first on the runway. The cockpit broke off and flew down the runway at about 200 miles per hour. The tail end broke off along with the wing, while the main part of the plane did belly-rolls down the runway at a high speed as a result of the left engine/wing using maximum power.

There were 296 souls on board the aircraft when it took off from Denver and 185 people were able to see the Sioux City sky an hour and a half after that.

---- 111 died

*35 due to smoke inhalation

*76 due to other reasons

*47 seriously injured

* 125 minor injuries

* 13 no injuries

A long investigation took place after the crash and it was concluded that the cause of the crash was a fan disk penetrating the hydraulics system. They found that there was fatigue to the disk and as a result, it was concluded that this whole incident could have been avoided. Poor inspection by United Airlines was the cause- the disk had the crack before take off and if the DC-10 had been inspected properly they would've found the crack and repaired it.

Since the crash, new regulations were put in place and changes were made to the aircraft model. "Airworthiness Directives" called for  inspections on the fan blades of the General Electric CF6 engine. Hydraulic system changes were made to the DC-10 as well.

Physics consumes the aviation world. There are many different forces that allow these pressurized tin cans to fly in the sky. Weight, thrust, drag, lift- all of these forces have their own jobs to do; without one the effects could be horrific.

The Breakdown

Weight is mass x acceleration due to gravity/ the greater the mass the greater the weight

Lift involves Bernoulli's Principle, the air above the wing will move faster than the air below

Thrust shows that for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction~this allows the plan to move forward

Drag is what holds the plane back a bit, and it's caused by the air pressing against the plane

Although loss of hydraulics was the main reason pilots were forced into a crash landing, all four factors listed above work together to keep the plane in the sky and they can also work together to bring a plane down.

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