Juliane Koepcke was the only survivor of a plane crash who fell 3km and was alone for 11 days in the Amazon jungle.

Sara B

Juliane Koepcke was 17 when she survived a plane crash and fell 3km to the earth. Juliane and her mother were on a flight from Lima, Peru, to Pucallpa on December 24, 1971, when the plane was struck by lightning.

They were headed back to their research station in the jungle, that her parents ran, studying wildlife in the amazonian jungle. The airline they flew, LANSA had a bad reputation, with two of its planes crashing previously.

It was rumored that her father told them to wait and take a more reputable airline, but Juliane and her mother wanted to return home. Juliane just graduated from high school. They assumed it would be fine and decided to take the flight regardless of its previous reputation.

The first 1 hour and 25 minutes were fine until they ran into turbulence and a lightning storm. Juliane stated:

"Then we flew into heavy clouds, and the plane started shaking. My mother was very nervous. Then we saw a bright flash to the right, and the plane went into a nose dive. My mother said, 'This is it!'"

The plane was going down, and when the aircraft was investigated, it was found that one of the fuel tanks was hit, and the right wing was torn off. Juliane was thrown out of the plane and was falling, stating:

"Suddenly there was this amazing silence. The plane was gone. I must have been unconscious and then came to in midair. I was flying, spinning through the air and I could see the forest spinning beneath me."

When Juliane came to, she was in the jungle with a broken collarbone, her right eye swollen shut, and possibly suffered a concussion and a cut on her arm that had maggots that were getting infected. With all her injuries, she knew she had to get up and try to get help, knowing that the jungle she landed in was similar to where her parent's station was; luckily, her parents taught her survival skills, and the jungle didn't scare her.

She was alone; however, Juliane remembered what her father always told her:

"He said if you find a creek, follow it because that will lead to a stream, and a stream will lead to a bigger river, and that's where you'll find help."

She never found more survivors, even after looking, and only finding those who did not survive the wreckage. Occasionally she heard planes overhead but could not see due to the thickness of the jungle.

Eventually, she did not hear any more planes, assuming they declared everyone dead in the aircraft. She continued following the water source, hoping it would lead to help.

After ten days, she found a hut on the river, and the next day a group of Peruvians discovered her; luckily, she spoke Spanish as they thought she was a water spirit, so she had to explain what happened. They took her into town, and she was treated. She was the only survivor of the flight and spent 11 days in the Peruvian jungle and fell over 3km.

There is a documentary about her life called Wings of Hope.

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I share legends, myths, and bizarre history, sometimes news. Living nomadically since 2018, currently in Colombia.

Pasadena, CA

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