33,300 Fall

Airplanes and their accidents have always been dangerous. The circumstances were no different when a plane leaving Copenhagen and traveling to Serbia exploded.

Flight 367 left Copenhagen airport at 3:15 p.m. on January 26, 1972. At 4:01 p.m., an explosion blew the aircraft apart over the chuckles of the Vakian village of Srbska Kamenice. Out of the twenty-eight people on board the flight, there was only one survivor. That survivor’s name was Vesna Vulovic.[1]

Vesna Vulovic was a flight attendant who fell 33,300 ft, or 10,160 m, from the plane without a parachute. She was discovered by Bruno Honke, a World War II veteran who was able to keep her alive until paramedics arrived.[2] Vulovic was in a coma for twenty-seven days and was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. However, she did survive.

Of the accident, Vulovic would later speak often of her survivor’s guilt, “Whenever I think of the accident, I have a prevailing, gray feeling of guilt for surviving it, and I cry… Then I think maybe I should not have survived at all.”[3] Vulovic’s fall had broken her legs, three of her vertebrae, fractured her skull, pelvis, and several ribs. Also, she suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage. She also had total amnesia from the hour preceding her fall until one month after.[4]

The Czechoslovak civil aviation authority would later attribute the explosion to a briefcase bomb. A man describing himself as a Croatian nationalist would call into a. Swedish newspaper claiming responsibility for the bombing of the plane. However, no arrests were ever made. Yougoslavia authorities suspect that a creation terrorist is to blame due to the fact that a train traveling from Vienna to Zagreb was also bombed the same day.[5]

Vesna Vulovic holds the official Guinness World record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute.[6] Although many conspiracy theories still surround the bombing, an episode of MythBusters concluded that a person could survive such a fall depending on the wreckage surrounding them.

[1] “Vesna Vulovic: How to survive a bombing at 33,000 feet,” Aviation Security Magazine, April 2002.
[2] Dan Bilefsky, “Serbia’s Most Famous Survivor Fears That Recent History Will Repeat Itself,” The New York Times, April 26, 2008.
[3] Vesna Zimonjic, “Too Good to Be True? Miracle Woman Who Survived ’33,000ft Fall,” The Independent, January 26, 2012.
[4] “Vesna Vulovic, Stewardess Who Survived 33,000ft Fall, Dies,” BBC News, December 24, 2016.
[5] “Vesna Vulovic, Stewardess Who Survived 33,000ft Fall, Dies,” BBC News, December 24, 2016.
[6] “Highest fall survived without parachute”. Guinness World Records.

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