the day I met a real-life hero

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with pastors, theology or Lutheranism. Figured most of you would want to know that.

Twenty-five years ago, United Flight 232 crashed in Sioux City, Iowa, about an hour away from my hometown.

 The Sioux City airport has two gates. The only aircraft that land there are prop jobs.

So when a commercial airliner headed from Chicago to Denver lost an engine and its hydraulic system and crashed at the Sioux City airport, the whole country noticed.

 One hundred and ten of the plane’s 285 passengers died. A crew member was killed.

It was the second worst domestic plane crash the United States had seen.

But a whole bunch of them survived.

Captain Al Haynes was flying that day. Since only two engines were working, and because the hydraulic system was virtually non-existent, he managed to fly the plane by accelerating one engine faster than another, one at a time, to keep the plane level while simultaneously burning off excess fuel.

Continually making right turns, he tried to slow the plane’s speed to ensure a safer emergency landing. He called ahead to the Sioux City airport, asking for EMTs, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles to be ready.

“Whatever you do,” the plane’s recorder quotes him as saying, “keep us away from the city.”

The plane crashed. It started on fire. One wing sliced off. The plane skidded on its belly, rolled over, and finally landed upside down. Passengers began piling out of the flaming plane into a corn field near by.

Folks from my hometown remember seeing one-foot deep gouges in the cement runway.
Everyone talked about it for months.

Captain Al Haynes was, needless to say, kind of a big deal after that. “There is no hero,” he told the Sioux City Journal in 2009 on the anniversary of the crash.

“Just a group of four people who did their job. It was an unusual circumstance but we put our best resources together and did what we thought was best.”

I found this picture while I was home a few weeks ago, taken just weeks after the crash.


My parents were dropping some good friends off at the airport.

I had just turned five.

I don’t remember that day all that much, but I’m pretty sure the conversation went something like:

Dad: Gail, lookit! That’s Al Haynes!

Mom: Oh, wow. You’re . . . um, Jon?

Me: Where’s Dad going?

Dad: *sprinting across airport* Hey! Hey! You! Sir! Are you Capt. Haynes?
Capt. Haynes: Whoa. Um . . . yes?

Dad: Can my daughter get her picture taken with you? Adriane, get over here!

Me: Mom!

Mom: Adriane.

Dad: Get over here!

Me: Daaaaad.

Dad: Stop whining, and stand next to the pilot. Closer. He’s not going to bite you. Get in there! The guy doesn’t have all day.

Me: But . . .

Capt. Haynes: Hi.

Me to Capt. Haynes: Hi.

Capt. Haynes: Is he always like this?

Or maybe not.

I’m sure Dad remembers it better.

But still, that’s me. And Capt. Haynes.

Look at that guy. Cool as a cucumber. Saved 184 lives like it’s no big deal. Standing there with a cranky kid with gigantic bangs and generally messy hair. Humble. Still bearing on his face the cuts and scratches and bruises that undoubtedly ran much deeper, into his very heart and soul. Smiling like he’s my grandpa.

I love a hero.

And that makes this one, well, it makes it a keeper.

sisters’ weekend, version 2.013

{This year, for the annual Dorr Sisters’ Weekend of Awesomeness, Kellee from Colorado and Lauren from Illinois joined me in Missouri at Osage Beach for a weekend of, well, awesomeness.}


We relaxed to the sound of lapping waves, ducks, and me yelling, “BOATS!” every time one would pass.

Because that didn’t annoy my sisters at all.kel and nin

We addressed wedding invitations until our hands cramped.

Or until midnight.

Things get fuzzy that late.feet

We got pedicures in purple, wore leather cuff bracelets and drank Starbucks like hipsters.

Iowa farm girl hipst . . . no, that’s not right.


We made each other laugh with our unique sense of humor.

We don’t understand why no one gets it but us.

garage sale

We went garage sale-ing. Or junking, as we say in Iowa.

Because nothing says Sisters’ Weekend like chalkboards, vintage farm animals, and no place for Kellee to sit. indian

We got stuck in the middle of Bikerfest . . .

and made it out without tattoos (which was a bummer to some and a joy to others).


We loved the sunshine so much that we put our toes in the water, Zac Brown style, for approximately 30 seconds.


We ate late breakfasts of cinnamon rolls and coffee and late suppers of Rotel, spring salad, and Oreo fluff.

We’re total health nuts, in case you didn’t notice.

Which you shouldn’t have since we’re not.


We were happy, happy, happy.


We found our shortest sister a new nickname, which she loves.

You can just see it in her eyes.


We went hiking (they call this “walking from sale to sale” in most civilized countries)

and we almost died from all the exercise.purses

We had matching colored purses whose sizes reflect our birth order.

{Evidence supports the fact that Kellee’s carrying gold bars in hers.}


We hugged it out before going to church on Sunday.


We bought vintage ice buckets, Pyrex, and malt mixers.

Because we needed them.

{At least, that’s what we told our fiancee/husbands. Shhhh.}trunk

We packed the trunk to the point of exploding.

It was a delicate process, like Jenga for automobiles.

sistersAnd from start to finish, garage sale to late-night snack, wrong turn to gift exchange, music to fire alarms (hey, it was a busy weekend),

we couldn’t imagine life without each other.