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17 year-old Juliane Koepcke was sucked out of an airplane in 1971 after it was struck by a bolt of lightning. She fell 2 miles to the ground, strapped to her seat and survived after she endured 10 days in the Amazon Jungle.

After ten days, she found a boat moored near a shelter, and found the boat's fuel tank still partly full. Koepcke poured the gasoline on her wounds, an action which succeeded in removing the maggots from her arm. Out of 93 passengers and crew, Juliane was the only survivor of the LANSA flight 508 crash that took place December 24th, 1971.

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I had heard about her long ago, so I just refreshed my memory by reading a little more about her and her story. It seems that 14 other people survived the plummet to the jungle (unbeknownst to Ms. Koepcke) but didn't survive the waiting for rescue.

 

A truly amazing story.

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How exactly does one survive a 2 mile fall? Land through soft tree canopy and splash down?

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5 minutes ago, Dantankerous said:

How exactly does one survive a 2 mile fall? Land through soft tree canopy and splash down?

 

Crash[edit]

On 24 December 1971, just one day after she graduated, Koepcke flew on LANSA Flight 508. Her mother Maria had wanted Juliane to return to Panguana with her on the 19th or 20th of December 1971, but Koepcke wanted to attend her graduation ceremony in Lima on 23 December. Maria agreed that they would stay for her graduation and instead they scheduled a flight for Christmas Eve. All flights were booked except for one with LANSA. Koepcke's father, Hans-Wilhelm, urged his wife to avoid flying with the airline due to its poor reputation.[1] Nonetheless, the flight was booked. The plane was struck by lightning mid-flight and began to disintegrate before plummeting to the ground. Koepcke found herself still strapped to her row of seats, falling 3,000 m (10,000 ft) into the Amazon rainforest.

Koepcke survived the fall but suffered injuries such as a broken collarbone, a deep cut on her right arm, an eye injury, and a concussion. She then spent 11 days in the rainforest, most of which were spent making her way through water by following a creek to a river. While in the jungle, she dealt with severe insect bites and an infestation of botfly larvae in her wounded arm. After nine days, she was able to find an encampment that had been set up by local fishermen. She gave herself rudimentary first aid, which included pouring gasoline on her arm to force the maggots out of the wound. A few hours later, the returning fishermen found her, gave her proper first aid, and used a canoe to transport her to a more inhabited area. She was soon airlifted to a hospital.[2]

Koepcke's unlikely survival has been the subject of much speculation. Experts have said that she survived the fall because she was harnessed into her seat, the window seat, which was attached to the two seats to her left as part of a row of three. That was thought to have functioned as a parachute which slowed her fall.[3][4] The impact may have also been lessened by the updraft from a thunderstorm Koepcke fell through, as well as the thick foliage at her landing site.[3][4] As many as 14 other passengers were later discovered to have survived the initial crash but died while waiting to be rescued.[5]

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