26 January 2012


"People always want to sit next to me on a plane." - Vesna Vulovic

Exactly 40 years ago today, Vesna Vulovic, a Serbian flight attendant on JAT Flight 367, became the sole survivor falling 33,000* feet after a terrorist bombing that tore her plane apart...

Here are two good sites that explain what happened: (website1) and (website2). Website2 is in Spanish but easily translatable. The following excerpt is from Website1:
"While passing over the city of Srbska-Kamenice, the explosive device detonated. The DC-9 was torn into pieces, and the plane’s wreckage, along with its 28 passengers, fell through the sky for three long minutes before striking a frozen mountainside.

A German man, upon arriving at the crash site, found all of the plane’s passengers dead, save one. Vesna was lying half outside of the plane, with another crew member’s body on top of her, and a serving cart pinned against her spine. The man had been a medic in the second world war, and did what he could for her until further help arrived... 
...Her good fortune in surviving the accident is most likely due to her low blood pressure, which caused her to pass out quickly and prevented her heart from bursting. But despite her positive outlook on life, Vesna does not consider herself lucky. Thirty years after the crash, she said to Philip Baum in an interview, 'I’m not lucky. Everybody thinks I am lucky, but they are mistaken. If I were lucky I would never had this accident and my mother and father would be alive. The accident ruined their lives too.' It’s a valid point, along the same lines as arguing that the event wasn’t a 'miracle,' given that there were 27 people who didn’t survive. The assertion that 'it could be worse' is small comfort to the pragmatic, because certainly, it could also be much better."
Vesna is alive and well today, and fully recovered from her injuries. Apparently, according to this New York Times article, "she admits she enjoys watching airplane crash films."

*Years later, however, further evidence revealed that her fall may have been well below 33,000 feet; as the plane was much closer to the ground when it broke apart. The evidence also suggests that it may not have been a bomb. The plane may have been shot down as it was being forced to land in what was then Czechoslovakia. But 40 years later, does it matter?