Dennis E. Fitch

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Dennis E. Fitch, Sr.
Born (1942-12-19)December 19, 1942
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died May 7, 2012(2012-05-07) (aged 69)
St. Charles, Illinois
Cause of death Brain tumor
Nationality American
Alma mater Duquesne University
Occupation Pilot
Employer United Airlines
Known for United Airlines Flight 232 incident, Motivational speaking
Spouse(s) Gene Anne Fitch
Rosa Rannels Fitch[1]

Dennis Edward "Denny" Fitch, Sr. (December 19, 1942 – May 7, 2012) was an American commercial airline pilot. He was best known for his critical actions as an off-duty McDonnell Douglas DC-10 training captain who helped captain Al Haynes minimize loss of life on United Airlines Flight 232, when all flight controls were lost, on July 19, 1989. Fitch used differential throttle adjustment to steer the airliner to an oblique crash-landing at Sioux Gateway Airport, in Sioux City, Iowa, resulting in the survival of 185 out of 296 on board.[2][3] Eighteen months after the crash, in which he was injured, he returned to flying duties with United Airlines.[4]


He was commended by then-President George H. W. Bush and in Senate Resolution 174[5] of the 101st United States Congress, as a result of his feat.[6]

A safety consultant to NASA as a member of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, he was also president of his own aviation consulting firm, specializing in Cockpit Resource Management and human factors, and gave motivational presentations to corporate groups and associations on teamwork, drawing on his experience on Flight 232.[6]

He was formerly a pilot in the Air National Guard, and attended Duquesne University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree.

Fitch was interviewed by Errol Morris about United Airlines Flight 232 for the documentary series First Person.[7] He also appeared on episodes of Mayday, Seconds from Disaster and Survival in the Sky that featured United Airlines Flight 232.

Fitch was diagnosed with brain cancer in January 2010,[8] and died on May 7, 2012, at his home in St. Charles, Illinois.[9][10]


  1. ^ "Dennis Fitch". The Daily Telegraph. May 24, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Eyewitness Report: United 232". AirDisaster.Com. 1989-07-19. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  3. ^ Dennis E. Fitch
  4. ^ Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Senate Resolution 174 Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ [1] Archived April 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Hero Pilot Faces Life's Turbulence". CBS News. 2010-10-09. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  9. ^ Archived from the original on May 12, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Babwin, Don. "Pilot who helped fly crippled jet in 1989 dies". Associated Press. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 

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