Air Emergency (2003– )
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Impossible Landing 

Meet the survivors of 1989's United Airlines Flight 232 and learn the remarkable story of their emergency crash landing.



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Episode credited cast:
Narrator (voice)
Captain Al Haynes
Jonah Bay ...
First Officer Bill Records
Dennis Mirkovic ...
Second Officer Dudley Dvorak
Dennis Fitch (as Robert Kennedy)
Flight Attendant Jan
Adam Chuckryk ...
Jerry Schemmel
ATC Controller
Kris Ryan ...
Don MacIntosh
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
John Cox ...
Himself - Aviation Analyst
Denny Fitch ...
Himself - DC-10 Instructor
Al Haynes ...
Himself - Captain, UA Flight 232
Jordan Kanner ...
James Wildey
Bob Macintosh ...
Himself - NTSB Investigator in Charge
Bill Records ...
Himself - First Officer, UA Flight 232


Meet the survivors of 1989's United Airlines Flight 232 and learn the remarkable story of their emergency crash landing.

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Release Date:

13 April 2012 (Canada)  »

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Did You Know?


The number of seats in each row is wrong. In this episode, the plane has seven seats in each row. According to Seating and injury information figure in the official NTSB report, there should be nine. See more »

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User Reviews

Too Heavy.
3 October 2016 | by See all my reviews

Two hundred and fifty six people die when an Arrow DC-8 lifts off from snowy Gander, Newfoundland, bring home troops from the Middle East, members of the elite 101st Airborne. The airplane struggles through the air for a thousand feet and then plows into the forest.

It's always interesting to see how emotionally moved some of the first responders are in the presence of bodies and body parts. Unlike, say, pathologists or ER docs they're trained to deal with trauma but don't deal with it very often. The accident took place on 12 December and everyone was prepared for Christmas. One investigator bemoans the fact that some of the dead were wearing novelty T-shirts saying, "I Survived Gander." President Reagan gave his condolences on television.

Given the weather conditions, the possibility of ice on the wings is looked into and ruled out. The same for a last-minute change of runway. A call is received from Hezbollah, a terrorist group, claiming credit, but there is no evidence of an explosion aboard. The airplane hit the trees in one piece.

The thoroughness of the investigators is astonishing. With the aid of a primitive flight data recorder, they measure the height of the trees whose tops were lopped off by the DC-8 and determine from modeling that the airplane was nose high, descending rapidly, with its right wing low, in an obvious stall. How the hell can anyone do that? The culprits are two. One is that the first officer checked the wings for ice before takeoff and found no heavy build up. But in 1988 it wasn't yet recognized that a thin film of ice, almost invisible to the eye, could compromise left. The second is that the weight of each passenger was estimated at the usual 170 pounds, accurate enough for civilian purposes that figure in men, women, and children. But these passengers were all men -- and big men. The combination of ice contamination and underestimate weight put the plane in danger. And the first officer pulled up the nose to gain altitude. That reduced lift further and doomed the airplane.

The lessons from the crash were distributed to the authorities and corrective measures taken.

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