Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Holy Shit, Juliane Koepcke!

Juliane Koepcke in Wings of Hope

On Christmas Eve in 1971, LANSA Flight 508 was flying 10,000 feet over the Peruvian jungle when it suddenly took an unexpected detour in several different directions. The plane was struck by lightning, and it broke into pieces. In the aviation industry, they like to call this situation "really, really shitty."
Lockheed L-188A Electra
Like this, but completely disintegrated

Juliane Koepcke was a seventeen-year-old student and a passenger on that ill-fated flight. When the plane disintegrated, her seat detached from the cabin and fell (ten thousand goddamn feet, mind you) to the ground. When she hit the ground, she broke her collarbone, got a gash on her arm, and found her eye swollen shut...and that's it.
Empire State Building
After she fell roughly seven of these

10,000 feet is almost two miles. That's the kind of falling height where you'd have around one full minute of time to consider what's happening to you before you hit the ground. All she had going for her was the thin cushioning of her chair, and if you've flown in a small aircraft before you know that those aren't exactly known for their softness.
Airline seat
Though I hear they float

Combined with the jungle canopy, it was enough. She survived the fall and started wandering the aforementioned Peruvian jungle. After surviving for 10 days on some candy she found, she eventually made her way to a stream that led her to a boat, where she waited for several hours. The owners, a group of lumberjacks, came back from their work and presumably flipped a shit at seeing a random injured teenager sitting in their boat in the middle of the goddamn rainforest. They took her back to their camp and got in touch with a pilot, who airlifted her to the nearest hospital.

Juliane Koepcke was the only survivor of LANSA Flight 508. She fell almost two miles out of the sky through a dense jungle canopy and survived. Then she went ten days without any food but candy, constantly plagued by insects and parasites, and survived. Finally, she escaped back to civilization, where she eventually became (and still is) the librarian for the Bavarian State Zoological Collection in Munich.

So I guess the moral of this story is that librarians are badasses.
The Librarian
I could have told you that.

Holy shit.

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