On July 19, 1998, Captain Fitch was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 232. He was simply returning home after a week at his job as a pilot trainer in Denver, enjoying the ride at 37,000 feet. That was until a catastrophic failure in one of the engines cut all hydraulic controls in the plane - a problem so unthinkable that there was no procedure for dealing with it.
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Denny Fitch then volunteered his assistance to the cockpit, and with Captain Al Haynes and the rest of the flight crew, guided the plane to Sioux City, Iowa under the most trying of circumstances. While 112 souls perished in the terrifying crash landing, 184 people survived because of the incredible teamwork and leadership of the men in the cockpit and the control tower.
Without the use of any of the systems required to control the plane, Captain Fitch and his colleagues missed being completely successful by only a matter of inches. He and the crew hold the distinguished record of the longest time aloft without flight controls who lived to tell about it.
Captain Fitch was commended by President George Bush and in Senate Resolution 174 of the 101st Congress for his outstanding effort, poise and courage in assisting the crew in attempting a difficult emergency landing at Sioux City, Iowa. He is a safety consultant to NASA as a member of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel and Captain Fitch has also been inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
He has given numerous inspirational and motivational presentations to various corporate and association groups. In his discussions, he uses his own incredible experiences to elp audiences understand that the details make a difference. He also offers valuable insight into the importrance of relying on other team members to ensure success in a myriad situations, both personal and professional.
Although the nerve injuries Captain Fitch suffered in the crash threatened to end his career, he fought through rehabilitation to resume his work for United Airlines. He is also President of D.E. Fitch & Associates, Ltd., an aviation consulting firm specializing in Cockpit Resource Management and human factors. He received a B.S. degree from Duquesne University and his flight training from the United States Air Force. Captain Fitch is recognized for his extensive experience as a flight instructor and check airman. He also accumulated over 17,000 hours of flight time and is an FAA check pilot designee.
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