Heroic United Airlines pilot dies

May 9, 2012 at 8:08 AM
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ST. CHARLES, Ill., May 9 (UPI) -- A heroic United Airlines pilot who helped crash land a crippled Chicago-bound DC-10 aircraft in an Iowa cornfield in 1989 has died of cancer, his family said.

Denny Fitch, 69, of St. Charles, Ill. was a passenger aboard United Flight 232 from Denver to Chicago when it lost hydraulic power July 19, 1989.

The United pilot and DC-10 instructor pulled every aeronautical trick out of the book to help the pilots get the aircraft on the ground, the (Arlington Heights, Ill.) Daily Herald reported Wednesday. The crash killed 111 people but 184 survived.

United pilot Mike Hamilton said the landing was a legend in the aviation world.

"It became a case study in how a crew could work together in an emergency," Hamilton said.

After the crash Fitch became an international motivational speaker and a consultant who worked with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

"He had survivor's guilt after the crash because people died," his wife Rosa said. "It haunted him that he didn't save everyone."

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