30 years ago today, Barb and Don Musick were on their way home from seeing friends in Denver when their plane suffered mechanical malfunctions. The rear engine blew causing the plane to lose all hydraulics. The plane crashed in a cornfield in Sioux City, Iowa. More than 100 people died, but Barb and Don walked away from the wreckage and sat down with WANE 15 to reflect on that experience.
“When you witness, actually see the plane crash, you would not think anyone survived,” Barb said. She and her husband Don did not fully grasp what had happened until they saw the crash on the news and say the DC-10 plane they were on had broken into three pieces and burst into flames.
The two of them said they heard when the engine blew.
“We heard a big boom,” Don said. “That was the engine blowing in the rear of the airplane. Then the pilot came on and said we have to make an urgent landing in Sioux City, Iowa.”
Don and Barb were sitting in the middle section of the plane which kept them from seeing out the window, something both felt helped them stay calm during the ordeal.
“One of the passengers, later, I heard say he could see out the window and he saw them dispensing fuel, and that was not a good sign, but see, we couldn’t see that and didn’t know that at the time,” Barb said.
When the plane separated into three pieces after landing in the cornfield, it allowed some things into the cabin from the outside.
“We were upside down, by the way,” Don said. “So when we got out of that position, she (Barb) saw corn on the ground or on the roof really. So, she said ‘oh! somebody brought corn on the plane.’ That wasn’t what happened at all. It was from the cornfields.”
Don and Barb escaped with minor bruising from the seat belts and were able to run through the cornfield away from the burning plane to safety. Don compared getting out of the plane like exiting a bus, saying he was surprised at how calm everyone was.
After staying the night in Sioux City, they got on a plane the next day to Chicago before taking another plane to Fort Wayne.
Don said he still believes flying is safer than driving and that anyone who flies with him should feel safe because “it can’t happen to you twice.”