December 29, 2016

"Vesna Vulovic, a flight attendant who alone, and miraculously, survived the midair explosion of a jetliner..."

"... over Czechoslovakia in 1972 after plummeting thousands of feet onto a snowy hill, was reported dead on Saturday in Belgrade. She was 66."
As others were believed to have been sucked out of the jet into subfreezing temperatures, Ms. Vulovic remained inside part of the shattered fuselage, wedged in by a food cart, as it plunged... 33,000 feet, the longest recorded fall without a parachute....

“If I were lucky, I would never had this accident, and my mother and father would be alive,” she said. “The accident ruined their lives, too. Maybe I was born in the wrong place. Maybe it was a bad place.”

23 comments:

Curious George said...

I remember this story. 33,000 feet. Bullshit.

exhelodrvr1 said...

I wonder if she read "Watership Down"

Darrell said...

It happened. Unlike AGW.

fivewheels said...

1972? She was not a flight attendant. She was a stewardess. And there was nothing wrong with that.

Rob McLean said...

"Maybe I was born in the wrong place. Maybe it was a bad place."

Czechoslovakia was a Communist country, so yeah.

Unknown said...

The 33,000 foot fall is nothing really: after what, a couple of thousand of feet she was at terminal velocity, so a few ten thousand more feet made no difference. The question is whether she could have survived a fall at terminal velocity, and as I recall, the specifics of her fall made it survivable.

Fact is, her plane did crash, and she was the only survivor. It happened. She was clearly not on God's "Dead today" List.

--Vance

exhelodrvr1 said...

It occasionally happens that some of the pieces from an aircraft break up will have just the right aerodynamic qualities that they "flutter" down at a relatively low velocity. That is likely what happened in her case.

Big Mike said...

@Curious George, it really did happen. I suspect it had to do with how the plane broke up -- my son was into model rocketry when he as in middle school and early high school and while most of his rockets came down by parachute, some of his rockets were designed to come apart and flutter down like a falling leaf. Something like that is probably the answer. Note that Burt Rutan used something similar in his design for SpaceShipOne.

As a footnote, a flight attendant from Pan Am 103 was reported to have reached the ground alive but died before medical help arrived and the coroner ruled that two passengers reached the ground alive and could have been saved had they been found in time. (Vilification was found quickly, and by a medically trained individual.)

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fernandinande said...

Curious George said...
I remember this story. 33,000 feet. Bullshit.


Maybe - it was a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32; the 9-50 has a max cruising altitude of 30,000 ft (9-32 page redirects to 9-50).

William said...

Such an improbable event. There must have been the thought that God had singled her out for some reason, followed by the dawning realization that her existence was just an odd quirk of circumstance. That's the way it goes for most us, but she had a far more dramatic epiphany of luck and chaos.

BDNYC said...

I really don't see how she could have possibly survived such a fall. Most likely the story was concocted by the communist government. The explosion had to have happened at a lower altitude.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I miss the crooked crazy cat pic coupe had near the beginning.

It humanized the coupe for me.

It was those crazy catfabulous ray-eyes and the crooked angle. You just knew this it, this thing, this computerized conglomoration, had something to say worth hearing. Worth contemplating, and worth giving essence of life for if need be.

Sic transit gloria.

virgil xenophon said...

In WW II a British tailgunner was blown out of his stricken bomber w.o. his para on and fell some 12,000' landing on/sliding down the slope of a heavily snowpacked hill at just the perfect congruent angle as the slope to avoid lethal impact, thus living to tell the tale..

The Drill SGT said...

Virgil,

I assume you heard the story about the Soviets dropping airborne troops during the 39 war with Finland? Without chutes into heavy snow?

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Something really great happens to her and yet she finds a way to turn it into a shit sandwich.

That's my kind of girl!

Trey Beyenne said...

It wasn't "really great". She didn't die, but she was "really" fucked-up.

mikee said...

My brother, a sport parachutist decades ago, asked me, the family nerd, to calculate how many seconds he had at various altitudes to cut away his primary chute and deploy his secondary, should a problem arise. When I did the math and told him, he took up base jumping, saying he didn't want to worry for that long if a problem did occur.

FullMoon said...

Wonder what sort of private thoughts she had during her life. Did she feel she was remiss in not doing something extraordinary with her life as payback for survival? Did she often contemplate suicide out of guilt? Was she mostly happy, miserable, or averagely normal?

Trey Beyenne said...

FullMoon said...Wonder what sort of private thoughts she had during her life. Did she feel she was remiss in not doing something extraordinary with her life as payback for survival? Did she often contemplate suicide out of guilt?

Someone tried to murder her.

David said...

"Maybe it was a bad place." Translate that as "awful" and the unlucky lady is with the theme.

Big Mike said...

@Fullmoon, she was an outspoken public opponent of the Milosevic regime, which was extremely dangerous at the time.

I really don't see why people keep thinking that Vilovic "couldn't" have survived the disaster. It's a matter of record that she was s flight attendant on a hat flight, and a matter of record that her badly injured but still living body was found in the fuselage of the crashed jet. She's not the only person who's survived falls from thousands of feet in the air -- an American ball turret gunner in World War II had 28 shrapnel wounds, fell 10,000 feet through the glass roof of a train station and another two or three stories onto a concrete floor. He survived.

At any rate, Vilovic is in the Guinness Book of World Records, and if you're going to doubt Guinness, well, just keep chugging your PBR.

openidname said...

It wasn't necessarily 33,000 feet straight down.

It seems that most on board died after being flung out of the aircraft. If the aircraft retained enough structural integrity, it may have glided for some distance. (Disclaimer: I'm not an expert, though I did see Sully.)

I can't find sufficient info, either in the article cited or in Wikipedia, to determine whether this is a possibility.