Surviving a fall of 33,000 feet....without a parachute
Last week JOE brought you some of the toughest races in the world and told of the story of Mauro Prosperi, the man who spent nine days on the Sahara desert after getting lost in a sandstorm, surviving on urine, bats and snakes (which sounds like a really messed-up board game). An amazing survival story by any standards.
By Declan Whooley
This week we will look at five other people who defied logic to survive the seemingly impossible.
First up we go to the Czech Republic, or Czechoslovakia as it was known then and a woman that subsequently got herself into the Guinness Book of Records.
Vesna Vulovic, Czech Republic, survived plane crash at 33,000 feet
In January 1972, a plane containing 28 passengers and crew departed Copenhagen destined for Belgrade. At 33,000 feet a bomb planted in the baggage compartment exploded causing the deaths of all but one on board, 22 year-old flight attendant Vesna Vulovic.
She is credited in the Guinness Book of Records as surviving the biggest fall without a parachute, more than a 10km drop from the sky.
Vesna was in a coma for 27 days, suffered a fractured skull, three broken vertebrae, two broken legs and was temporarily paralysed from the waist down, but miraculously survived. After her recovery period of seventeen months, Vesna went back to work for her employers again, this time working a desk-job. She quickly became something of a national heroine for her bravery.
Her loss of memory meant, surprisingly, she had no fear about getting on planes again and even claimed to watch films with plane crashes in them. Shw must have got a real kick out of Airplane, so.
In a strange quirk of fate, Vesna was not even scheduled to be on that flight. She had been mixed up with another female flight attendant who was also named Vesna.
Vesna remained in that job until 1990 when she was dismissed for criticising the Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic. Many have felt that she was never arrested, despite her strong public views, because she was a heroine in the country and the government did not want to cause even more unrest. She was involved in marches throughout the 90’s against the ruler.
Her survival is quite remarkable and it even inspired Mythbusters to examine the case for themselves. Here is what they discovered about the fall.