RIP Vesna Vulović, survived 44 years after 33,000-foot fall

Vesna Vulović was a JAT Yugoslav Airlines flight attendant when her plane exploded mid-air in 1972, sending her hurtling toward earth in the tail of the aircraft. Her miraculous survival remains the record height for surviving a freefall without a parachute.

Several factors attributed to her unlikely survival: the tail of the plane was relatively intact, and it passed through trees before landing in heavy snow.

Via View from the Wing:

Her screams led to her rescue, though she later fell into a coma for some time. Her skull was fractured. Her ribs were broken. So were her legs and her pelvis. And though she was paralyzed from the waist down, she eventually recovered and even returned to work for the airline. She reported had no memory of the crash, however — just boarding the plane, and then waking up in the hospital.

Conspiracy theorists and debunkers alike have examined the case. You may even recall a Mythbusters segment that dead-dropped a fuselage from a lower height to see if it was survivable (hint: not under their conditions).

Vulović seemed pretty cool, too. She was fired for resisting Slobodan Milošević, later tried for war crimes.

This Flight Attendant Fell From 33,000 Feet — and Lived For 44 Years (via JohnnyJet)