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


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I saw that the other day. I remember seeing a diagram of the high altitude falls survived in an old copy of the Guinness Book of Records when I was a kid.

This was a local guy who survived something similar during WW2 (from 18k ft), he only sprained his ankle - but he landed in trees and snow.


Tough gal, would have loved to have a slivovitz with her.


Is that all? Betcha I can beat her record!

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.

On second thought…


It’s got to be weird having done something that nobody else has ever done before - and not remember any of it.


It makes no difference whether you fall from 1000 or 30000 feet because you hit at terminal velocity regardless. There are plenty of examples of people surviving falls from high altitudes and it always comes down to hitting something soft (trees, snow, mud, etc) which decelerates you over a longish distance. Hit concrete and you are dead for sure.



Back in the 70’s I recall a newspaper story about a British teenager who did a parachute jump with the military. May have been boy scouts or the UK equivalent. From 3 or 4,000 ft, his chute candle-sticked and he plummeted directly over the airfield to what looked like certain death.

By an incredible sequence, his path took him right through a plexiglass hangar skylight, the parachute shroud lines entangling around the skylight and support girders jerked him to a stop a few feet from the concrete floor. The combination of some drag from the streaming chute and ‘give’ in the line-snagging apparently enough to spare him.

There was a photo showing him sitting with a leg cast (torn ligament I believe was his sole injury) & hoisting a pint of beer.


Of all the records in the Guiness book, this is the one I always thought I could beat.


I found the original BBC headline more amusing: Woman who fell 33,000 feet dies.

They later edited that for clarity.


Because of exceptions like this woman, my wife is convinced that falling from tremendous heights is not that dangerous.


When I was six, I jumped off the couch and dislocated my elbow. Not even close.


I actually have a strategy for this. I did indoor skydiving once, so I’m totally an expert, guys. Check it out, you know how skydivers poke out their chest and let their arms and legs “hang” above the rest of their body? That’s how you steer, it’s actually fairly intuitive. Then aim for trees. I’m going to find a nice tall evergreen and grab it for all I’m worth. And that’s it! :upside_down:


Addendum: aim slightly to the side of the trees. It’s a bit messy if you hit dead on.


oh, yeah. totally.

good catch!


That’s certainly what you’re hoping for :wink:


Well, falling from 30.000 feet you better accelerate quickly and go fast, else you might suffocate before reaching breathable atmospheric density. You don’t have that issue falling just 1000 feet.


I don’t think lack of oxygen would kill you in this scenario but if you had to manually open your parachute at lower altitude, or take some other action, then you might be in trouble.


oooh, good point.

so: pencil-dive out of high altitudes, then skydive position, and then the trees. got it!


Wow. Just wow.

Oddly, and I have no idea why, I’ve always assumed I would die of a heart attack if I fell from a great height. (ETA: before hitting the ground)


I don’t see how that could fail. You’re good.