Five Very Lucky People

  • January 09, 2011
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Vesna Vulovic

We don't have an actual statistic to cite here, but we’re going to make the bold and perhaps controversial assumption that a vast majority of people who fall out of aircraft do not survive. In fact, the odds of survival only lower as the height of your fall increases. Again, no study to support this theory, but our loose understanding of science leads us to believe that gravity trumps all.


On January 26, 1972, a Yugoslav Airline carrying less than thirty people reached a height of thirty-three thousand feet before a bomb on board was set off, causing the plane to disintegrate and killing many of the passengers. Vesna Vulovic was a stewardess on the doomed flight through a mix-up (it was originally supposed to be a different stewardess named Vesna). Initially she was happy with the mistake because it would be her first trip to Denmark. However, she soon found herself regretting her decision to not call in sick at some point while she was cartwheeling through the sky over Europe.


Like this, but different.

Vesna survived without a parachute, suffering a fractured skull, two broken legs and a few broken vertebrae. At first she was paralyzed from the damage caused to her spine. However, after a series of operations she was able to walk once more. She currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest fall without a parachute. Something tells me she would have appreciated the award more had it occurred under less explosive circumstances.


Tsutomu Yamaguchi

If there was ever a guy that deserved hazard pay, it was Tsutomu Yamaguchi.


Yamaguchi and two workers were staying in Hiroshima for a three month business trip. While preparing to leave the city Yamaguchi saw a plane in the sky then a tremendous flash. Suddenly he was lying on the ground blind, burned and half deaf. The explosion of the atomic bomb had occurred only two miles away but he survived, managing to crawl to a near-by shelter and meet up with his colleagues. The next day he returned to his place of residence in Nagasaki. Yeah, this isn't going to end well.

On August 9h Yamaguchi was in his office describing his experience to a co-worker when the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The explosion itself was less than two miles away but he remained uninjured, though his ruined bandages led to a fever during the same week.


A perpetual case of the Mondays.

Yamaguchi was one of just over one-hundred people present for both bombings but stands as the only person recognized by the Japanese government as surviving both. At first it was believed that had been unaffected by the radiation left by the weapons and that the only injuries he suffered from the bombs were burns. However, this turned out to be untrue; in 2009 he was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. It ultimately took his life at age 93, killing him in 2010. During his lifetime he continued working various jobs while speaking out against the use of atomic weapons.

Written by NN – Copyrighted ©

Image Sources

Image sources:

  • - Frane Selak:
  • - Timothy Dexter:
  • - Jason and Jenny Cairns-Lawrence:
  • - Vesna Vulovic:
  • - Tsutomu Yamaguchi :