In Tribute to True Heroes
On the 19th July 1989, Captain Al Haynes (Charlton Heston) is flying a DC-10 carrying 296 people including crew on a regular flight when something goes wrong in the tail causing loss of control. With Sioux City airport being the nearest Haynes wrestles to control the plane to bring it down whilst Gary Brown (Richard Thomas) of the area's disaster control unit scrambles the resources in case things don't go well. And it is a good job that he does as on final approach to the airport the plane dips and crash lands in one big fire ball, yet due to the preparation of all involved 186 of the people on board survived.
"Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232" which is also known as "A Thousand Heroes" actually starts with what appears to be an ongoing disaster near an airfield as emergency services hurry to deal with what appears to be a bus on fire. But as we learn it is own a drill where it becomes apparent that old timer Jim Hathaway, played by James Coburn, who looks after the emergency services at the airport and town disaster manager Gary Brown, played by Richard Thomas, don't always see eye to eye. It is an opening scene which whilst delivering a moment or two of surprising humour as well as giving us the initial conflict between the characters also highlights the complexity of controlling such an operation.
What follows after that is initially an effective dramatization of the events of 1989; the problem with the plane followed by the emergency services scrambling in readiness for a possible disaster. Now I knew nothing of this disaster before watching "Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232" yet whilst it would be wrong to say that this is a spectacular re-enactment it is effective in making it feel real. In fact whilst "Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232" has that feel of a TV movie, boosted by some big name stars such as Charlton Heston and James Coburn, it has an edge about it which makes it feel less hurried than some similar TV movies and in truth has a surprising amount of tension.
But what "Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232" really is is a tribute to all those men and women who were involved in the rescue from the calmness of Captain Al Haynes down to the organization of Gary Brown as well as the experienced head of Jim Hathaway. It is both interesting and exciting but more importantly does the job intended of being an effective tribute to all those heroes who managed to save so many from a terrible disaster.
What this all boils down to is that "Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232" whilst a dramatization of an actual plane crash and the efforts to save as many people in the wake of the disaster it is intended more as a tribute to those involved and as such it is effective.