|This is my contribution to ABC Wednesday and for Round Ten I am focusing on people from the past, some famous, others less so.|
Vesna Vulović has an unusual claim to fame – according to the Guinness Book of Records, she holds the world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute, some 33,330 feet.
This unsought achievement happened on 26 January 1972 when Vulović was a flight attendant on Yugoslav Airline Flight 367 and a bomb exploded on board.
The plane broke in two and spun out of control, crashing near the village of Srbská Kamenice, Czechoslovakia, killing 27 of the 28 people on board.
Vulović wasn’t meant to be working on that flight, but had been confused with another attendant also called Vesna.
She was near the rear of the plane at the time of the explosion and a food cart pinned her to the back of the plane during her fall, acting as a seat belt.
Both her legs were broken and she was in a coma for 27 days. Her injuries caused her to be temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, but she was to make a reasonable recovery.
Vulović continued to work for the airline until the 1990s when she was dismissed for her critical comments about Slobodan Milošević and only her national heroine status is said to have saved her from arrest. She remains politically active in Serbia today.
Who placed the bomb on the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 remains a mystery. The Yugoslav government blamed a far-right Croatian terrorist group, although no-one claimed responsibility and no arrests were ever made.