Airhostess survive after falling from 33000 feet | J A T Airlines Flight 367 Case Study
26 January 1972, Copenhagen Airport, Denmark.
JAT (J A T) Yugoslav Airlines flight number 367 lands at Copenhagen Airport around 2.30 p.m. and slowly moves towards the airport via taxiway after landing on the runway. Due to extreme cold weather, there was a lot of snow at the airport and pilots were taking the plane very slowly towards the airport terminal.
Standing at the window of the airport terminal, the crew members of the next flight were eagerly watching the McDonnell Douglas aircraft coming to the terminal.
This was the same plane that they were supposed to take for their next flight to Belgrade.
Vesna Vulovic, a beautiful air hostess among these crew members, was watching the passengers exiting the plane and waiting for the plane to be empty, so she could board the flight with other crew members and new passengers.
When looking at debarking passengers, she noticed a strange passenger constantly arguing with the airport staff.
Like any other daily incident that happens frequently at any airport, the air hostess ignores that passenger.
But she had no idea that in just a few hours this man would decide the life and death of every passenger and crew members on the plane.
And such a miracle would happen in her life that no one could believe. A world record in human history that can only be described as a miracle from God.
After all the passengers debarked, new crew members & ground staff started to prepare the plane for the next flight.
For the next journey, the J A T Flight 367 was to fly from Copenhagen Airport to Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport in Serbia
JAT Yugoslav Airlines was a well-known airline in Yugoslavia. This McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 series plane was given to JAT Yugoslav Airlines just two years ago.
Captain Ludvik Razdrih, first officer Ratko Mihic, along with air hostess Vesna Vulovic and three other crew members started to prepare the plane for the next flight.
As the next flight was already running late due to a delay from the previous flight, the airport ground staff also started to complete all ground tasks without any further delay.
Like every other regular flight, everything was going as normal and all 22 passengers boarded the plane. But for an unknown reason, air hostess Vesna was feeling a strange discomfort and uneasy thoughts. She thought that all this is happening because of the flight delay.
But as sometimes happens that God gives us some sign before any accident which we couldn’t understand at that time, the same thing was happening with air hostess Vesna Vulovic.
At around 3 PM, after the completion of all flight tasks, the captain instructed the ground staff to start the push back.
Following the push-back and passing through the taxiway, the plane slowly started to move toward The Runway.
After arriving at the runway, captain instructed the crew members to take their seats for takeoff. Captain then asked the ATC tower to give the takeoff permission.
After getting permission from ATC tower, the JAT flight took off from Copenhagen airport at around 3.15 p.m.
Following its flight path, the plane started to climb its desired height. In clear weather and with no turbulence, the flight quickly reaches at a height of 33000 feet.
After smoothly getting to it’s planned cruising height, the cabin crew started the inflight drink & food services.
All the passengers were relaxed and enjoying their flight food & entertainment.
At that time Vesna Vulovic was serving food at the back of the aircraft with her food trolley.
Unaware of any upcoming disaster, In the cockpit, the captain and co-pilot were busy discussing the weather and flight path. It had been about 45 minutes since takeoff and the plane was flying over the border between East Germany and Czechoslovakia.
And then suddenly an explosion happened in the plane. The explosion was so powerful that the plane broke mid-air into three pieces.
The plane’s parts began to fall from the sky at a high speed. Due to the plane broke up at such a high altitude, the air pressure in the cabin dropped drastically, causing the passengers and crew members to be pulled out of the plane and fall towards the ground.
At the time of the explosion, Air hostess Vesna Vulovic, who was serving food at the back of the plane, luckily got stuck at the back wall of the plane due to the pressure of her food trolley.
Acting like a seat belt, the food trolley’s pressure keeps Vesna Vulovic tied to the plane wall, preventing her been sucked out of the plane. Like a stone, the pieces of the plane and passengers started to fall towards the ground.
After a big explosion in the sky, When the people in Czechoslovakia’s Sarabska city see a plane falling in the nearby forest, everyone started to run towards the accident site.
Running through heavy snow and dense forest, when people reached at the accident site, they could only see the burning debris and people dead bodies everywhere.
After witnessing that horrific scene, there was no hope for anyone to survive this accident.
Then suddenly out of everyone’s belief, people hear some crying beneath the debris of the plane.
Without wasting any time, people try to locate the voice direction and started to remove the debris.
Finally getting to the screaming voice location, no one believes their eyes. Vesna Vulovic was found alive beneath a food trolley. People rush to get her out of the wreckage and take her to the hospital.
This could only be a God’s miracle that after falling from 33000 feet, Vesna Vulovic was alive.
After reaching the hospital, Vesna Vulovic remained in comma for 27 days & could not regain any memory of the accident.
She could only recall her memories of the airport terminal and up to the moments when she boarded the flight.
But what actually happened with Flight 367 and why did the plane explode and broke into pieces mid-air?
Many theories have been suggested about this accident, but no official reason was ever concluded.
According to an article published in 1997 in a Czech magazine, the Czechoslovakia air defense unit mistakenly blew up the J A T plane with a missile, thinking it was an enemy fighter plane.
However, there was no official confirmation of this theory.
The Czechoslovakian civil aviation authority later blamed a suitcase bomb for the reason of this accident. According to them, a passenger might have planted a bomb in the suitcase and kept it on the plane. The suitcase bomb then exploded causing the plane broke to parts mid-air.
According to Vesna Vulovic, the same passenger she saw fighting with airport staff might have put the bomb on the plane with his suitcase. However, no official arrest was ever made for this accident.
Definitely, no one will ever forget the miraculous survival of Vesna Vulovic, who continued to work as a desk operator for JAT Airlines even after the accident.