Share story

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — It’s been more than 28 years since a United Airlines DC-10, flying from Denver to Chicago, crash-landed at Sioux Gateway Airport.

Out of the 296 passengers and crew members on Flight 232, 112 were killed in the disaster that occurred July 19, 1989.

Located just 15 acres north of the airfield, the Mid America Museum of Aviation & Transportation has a permanent exhibition dedicated to Flight 232, the heroes, the victims and the community’s reaction to the tragedy.

The museum features a model of Flight 232, a map showing the path the plane took backtracking across Northwest Iowa after an engine malfunction and, even, the mangled seat used by Capt. Al Haynes, the DC-10’s pilot.

“When Al saw the captain’s seat at the museum, he said it helped answer a lot of questions,” Larry Finley recalled. “Chief among them is why his head, back and legs still hurt after all this time.”

Executive director of the museum, Finley oversees the 30,000-square-foot building that is filled with historic planes, vehicles and other transportation relics, the Sioux City Journal reported .

Although Flight 232 remains its most high profile exhibit, he said visitors have much more to experience at the museum.

Indeed, the museum, located at 2600 Expedition Court, provides a one-of-a-kind history of the role transportation has played for more than 100 years.

What’s the quirkiest exhibit? Possibly a horse-drawn hearse that was manufactured in 1880 and an automotive hearse, manufactured 100 years later.

“Even though there’s a century between the two hearses, both were made by the same manufacturer,” Finley noted.

Another unusual entry would be the 1929 Pitcairn two-seater prop plane that was used to deliver air mail.

“The pilot would sit in one seat while the mail bag sat in the other,” Finley said.

Veterans will get a kick out of the display of uniforms worn by different branches of the military throughout the years while fans of mod fashion will be amazed at some of the outrageous outfits that airline stewardesses wore in the swinging 1960s.

Finley is especially proud of the Boeing 707 flight deck that was also seen on ABC’s short-lived “Pan Am” television series that ran from 2011 to 2012.

The Mid America Museum of Aviation & Transportation has attracted visitor from all over since it opened in 2010.

“I think it’s because there is such a variety of things to see here,” Finley said. “Not only are you seeing all forms of aircraft ranging from commercial to general to military to sport, you’re seeing vintage cars and motorcycles of all types.”

All of the artifacts help to tell the exciting story that aviation and transportation have played in our lives.

In fact, Finley would like to see the museum become a destination for both local residents as well as travelers.

“There’s so much to see here, it’s hard to take everything in during a single visit,” he said. “My advice is to step back into history and help us celebrate the rich aviation and transportation we have right here in Siouxland.”


Information from: Sioux City Journal,