Denny Fitch, the pilot who helped land United flight 232 in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1989, died of brain cancer Monday at the age of 69.
Fitch, who was a DC-10 instructor for United, was a passenger on the flight from Denver to Chicago. The plane’s flight controls were disabled after a turbine blade broke apart. Fitch told a flight attendant he could help the pilots in the cockpit and volunteered to land the plane. He managed to ease the plane down as best he could, though the video of the crash (here) shows that the impact was pretty violent. Somehow, though 111 people died, his ability to control the plane as he did saved the lives of the 185 people who survived the violent crash.
Following the crash he become a motivational speaker and a consultant with NASA.
He was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2010.