Vesna Vulovic: The Stewardess Who Survived a terrorist attack at 33,000 feet

December 15, 2008 at 8:44 am (Uncategorized)

On January 26, 1972, a Yugoslav Airlines DC-9 departed from Copenhagen for Belgrade (via Zagreb) with 28 passengers and crew. At an altitude of 33,000 feet, a bomb in the cargo section, planted by the Ustashe Croatian separatist group, exploded. The plane disintegrated and crashed on the mountains.

In what must be one of the greatest survival stories of all time, stewardess Vesna Vulovic survived the 33,000 foot descent sitting on the tail of the plane.

22 year old Vulovic wasn’t even supposed to be on that plane. As she later stated in an interview, it was another Vesna who was supposed to be on that flight, but she was happy with the mix-up as it allowed her to make her first trip to Denmark. She ended up with a fractured skull, two broken legs, and three broken vertebrae – one of which was crushed and left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Vulovic spent several months in and out of hospitals; operations allowed her to walk again. She became a celebrity when the Guinness Book of World Records invited her to a ceremony in London with Paul McCartney. She is listed for surviving the longest fall without a parachute. Vulovic is now a national hero in Serbia and spent the late 90s marching in Belgrade against Slobodan Milosovic.

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