Denny Fitch, Hero Pilot of 1989 United Flight 232 Crash, Dies at 69

Dennis Fitch, the airline pilot best remembered for his heroic efforts in 1989 which helped save 184 people when a Denver-to-Chicago flight crashed in Sioux City, Iowa, has died. He was 69.

Mr. Fitch’s wife, Rosa, confirmed the news Monday adding that her husband died as a result of brain cancer at their home in St. Charles, Illinois. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Fitch been diagnosed with the disease in 2010.

“He really was an amazing man,” Rosa Fitch, said Tuesday. “You could see the genuine kindness in him.”

The Rapid City Journal reports that in 1989, Denny Fitch was a United pilot and flight instructor who happened to be a passenger on United Flight 232 when the aircraft lost all hydraulic power in mid-flight. At the time, Fitch raced into the cockpit and worked with the flight crew, pulling every aeronautical trick out of the book as he helped the pilots get the aircraft on the ground.

The plane crash-landed killing 111 people, while 184 survived, thanks to Fitch and the rest of the flight crew’s troubleshooting.

“I was 46 years old the day I walked into that cockpit,” Fitch later said in a documentary about the crash. “I had the world ahead of me. I was a captain on a major U.S. airline. I had a beautiful healthy family, loving wife, great future. And at 4 o’clock, I’m trying to stay alive.”

Fitch suffered severe injuries from the crash but after enduring nine surgeries and 18 months of rehabilitation, returned to again fly for United.

He would later become an international motivational speaker and a consultant who worked with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Denny Fitch is survived by his wife, Rosa, as well as three children, two stepchildren and 10 grandchildren, according to the Sun-Times.

For more on Denny Fitch and his heroic efforts in 1989 on United Flight 232, watch the video below:

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