Pilot who became hero dies of cancer

by NPHM | May 14th, 2012

May 14, 2012

Denny Fitch died last week at age 69 of brain cancer. In 1989 when he was 46, he was the passenger/pilot who helped to land a disabled jet in an Iowa cornfield and save 184 lives, reports the Daily Herald.

On that infamous day, United Flight 232 lost all hydraulic power when it was flying from Denver to Chicago. Fitch happened to be a passenger on the flight that day.

A turbine blade came apart, sending shrapnel into the engine and disabling the hydraulic system, which was necessary for landing.

Signaling a flight attendant, Fitch told her that he was a flight instructor and a pilot, “If there is anything that I can do to assist, I’ll be happy to do so.”

When he walked into the cockpit, the scene was chaotic with pilots manually trying to control the plane. Fitch sat on the floor and took charge of the throttles, desperately trying to ease the plane down. He pulled every aeronautical trick in the book to control the plunging jet.

The jet crash-landed into a cornfiled, killing 111 people, but Fitch and the flight crew’s resourcefulness in the bringing the aircraft down and saving 184 people became legend in the aviation world.

If you are someone you know has had his or her safety compromised on a commercial or private airline, the aviation accident attorneys at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy may be able to help.