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How Flight Attendant Survived the Highest Fall Without Parachute

By Orgesta Tolaj


15 December 2023

Vesna Vulović's Survival Story

© Guinness World Records

Yugoslav Airlines Flight 367, traveling from Stockholm, Sweden, to Belgrade, Serbia, met a tragic end over Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) when it exploded into three pieces. The explosion and subsequent crash resulted in the loss of all passengers on board, except for Vesna Vulović. Remarkably, she survived a fall that nobody else could manage. This is Vesna Vulović’s survival story.

Who Was Vesna Vulović?

Vesna Vulovic, a Serbian flight attendant, achieved a remarkable feat by surviving the highest fall without a parachute. It was a staggering 10,160 meters (33,330 feet), when JAT Flight 367 crashed on January 26, 1972. The catastrophic event occurred when a briefcase bomb exploded in the baggage compartment. This caused the plane to crash near Srbská Kamenice, Czechoslovakia. Vulovic was the sole survivor.

What Is Vesna Vulović’s Survival Story?

The Yugoslav authorities suspected Croatian nationalists of orchestrating the bombing, but no arrests were made. Following the crash, Vulovic endured days in a coma and spent several months hospitalized. Her injuries were extensive, including a fractured skull, three broken vertebrae, broken legs, broken ribs, and a fractured pelvis. Remarkably, she was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down but managed to make an almost complete recovery, a process she attributed to her childhood diet that included chocolate, spinach, and fish oil.


Despite facing such severe physical trauma, Vulovic displayed resilience. She returned to walking, albeit with a noticeable limp. Her recovery period, considering the extent of her injuries, was relatively short and remarkably successful. Notably, her first request upon waking from the ordeal was for a cigarette. The bombing left a mark on her life, and she became a symbol of survival against incredible odds. The mystery surrounding the perpetrators of the attack remains unsolved, adding an element of intrigue to Vulovic’s extraordinary story.

How Did She Survive?

Vesna Vulović’s survival of the highest fall without a parachute raised numerous questions, mostly centered around how she managed to endure such a harrowing experience. However, due to amnesia from the crash, Vulović had no memory of the incident or the explosion that caused it. Air safety investigators delved into the circumstances of her survival and concluded that Vulović’s positioning within the aircraft at the time of the explosion played a crucial role. She was situated in the rear of the plane, working with a food cart when the fuselage disintegrated.

While many other passengers were tragically ejected from the plane in the aftermath of the explosion, Vulović found herself pinned by the food cart. The section she occupied fell to the ground, landing on a heavily wooded, snow-covered hillside. According to both air safety investigators and Vulović’s physicians, the very condition that almost prevented her from becoming a flight attendant turned out to be the key to her survival. Her doctors believed that Vulović’s low blood pressure likely prevented her heart from bursting upon impact with the mountainside.

© Guinness World Records

In an unfortunate turn of events, Vesna Vulović passed away in 2016 at the age of 66. Her Guinness World Record for the highest fall without a parachute was given to her by none other than Paul McCartney, marking the end of a life defined by a survival story.

You might also want to read: The Civil War Soldier Who Is Known As the Headshot Survivor

Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!