26 January 1972

Miss Vesna Vulović, Jugoslavenski Aerotransport. (AFP PHOTO)

26 January 1972: Miss Vesna Vulović was a flight attendant aboard Jugoslavenski Aerotransport (JAT) Flight 367, en route from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Zagreb, Yugoslavia.

The airliner, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, YU-AHT, was nearly new. It had made its first flight the previous year and had a total 2,091 hours.

Jugoslavenski Aerotransport McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, YU AHL, landing at Zurich, Switzerland, 1972. This is the same type airliner as YU-AHT. (clipperarctic/Wikipedia)

At 4:01 p.m., over Srbská Kamenice, Czechoslovakia, a bomb exploded in the airliner’s baggage compartment. As the airplane broke apart from the force of the explosion and decompression, 19 people fell from the disintegrating passenger cabin. Wreckage of the DC-9 was dispersed over several kilometers.

Wreckage of McDonnell Douglas DC-9 YU-AHT. (Bureau of Aircraft Accident Archives)

Miss Vulović was among those who fell. According to Guinness World Records, she fell 10,160 meters (33,333 feet), and though she was severely injured, she survived. The remainder of the passengers and crew were killed.

Miss Vulović was in a coma for 27 days, and never regained memory of the incident. She was paralyzed below her waist for several months and remained hospitalized for 1 year, 4 months.

In 1985, Guinness credited her with the “highest fall survived without a parachute.” The award was presented by Paul McCartney.

Miss Vulović was born in Belgrade, Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, 3 January 1950. She died there 23 December 2016 at the age of 66 years. She was buried at Novo groblje, a cemetery in Belgrade, Republic of Serbia.

Vulović suffered a fractured skull, three vertebrae, several ribs, her pelvis and both legs. (Codzienna Dawka Historii w Grafikach)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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One thought on “26 January 1972

  1. How on earth did she survive that? Another was Nicholas Alkemade, a WW2 RAF Lancaster bomber rear gunner, in 1944. In that position, they couldn’t wear the parachute. It was clipped to the side of the fuselage inside the plane. He had to get it and clip it on before jumping. The plane was hit by a night fighter at 18,000 ft. and went up in flames. His parachute was burning and rather than burn to death, he jumped without it. He fell through the branches of pine trees and into deep snow. He broke no bones, just sprained his ankle. At first the Germans who found him didn’t believe it, but when they found the wreckage of the plane with the remains of the burned parachute inside, they did!

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