December 4, 2022

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Teen Plane Crash Survivor – Spent 11 Days Injured On Amazon

He thought trees in the dense rainforests of Peru looked like heads of cauliflower, and he fell toward them at 45 meters per second.

A severe storm destroyed the plane he was traveling in and the row of seats Julian was still strapped to was hovering airborne as it fell.

He lost them her sensesAssuming this strange glimpse of the green Amazon trees would be her last. But then, Julianne woke up.

The forest canopy was now above it.

You call it a miracle

On Christmas 1971, Julianne, dressed in a short sleeveless dress and sandals, survived a three-kilometer fall to the ground with relatively minor injuries.

Surviving that fall would have been a miracle, but the teen’s fight for life was just beginning.

He has landed in Peru, in a jungle full of poisonous snakes, mosquitoes and spiders.

Returning to civilization meant that this tough young woman, the daughter of two famous zoologists, must find her way out on her own.

The “child of the forest” raised by scientists

Born to German parents in 1954, Julianne grew up in the Peruvian jungle, from which she has now had to escape.

Her father, Hans-Wilhelm Koepke, was a famous zoologist, and her mother, Maria Koepke, was a scientist who studied tropical birds.

Together, they set up a biological research station called Panguana so they can immerse themselves in the rich ecosystem of the rainforest.

Julianne came to describe herself as a “Jungle Child” when growing up at the station. He told the BBC in 2012: “I learned a lot about living in the rainforest, and that it wasn’t too dangerous. It’s not the green hell people always think.”

Julián took classes at her home in Pangwana for several years, but eventually went to Lima, the capital of Peru, to complete her education.

In 1971, Julian and Maria book tickets back to Pangwana to meet her father for Christmas.

Her mom wanted to go early, but Julianne desperately wanted to attend the 12th grade prom and dance. Their only option was to fly on Christmas Eve in LANSA’s 508th, a turboprop aircraft that could carry 99 people.

Julian’s father knew that the Lockheed L-188 Electra had a terrible reputation. Of the 170 Electras built, 58 were lost after crashes or severe mid-air failures. He urges them to find an alternate route, but as Christmas approaches, Julien and Maria decide to book their tickets.

Photo: YouTube

The trip at first seemed like any other

Julianne sat in the second row from the back at the window, while her mother sat in the middle seat.

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They were eating their sandwiches and looking out at the rainforest from the window next to them.

But 15 minutes before the supposed landing, the sky suddenly turned black.

“Daylight turns to night and lightning strikes from all directions. People gasp as the plane shakes violently,” Julianne wrote in her memoir, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky.”

“Bags, wrapped gifts, and clothes fall from lockers above the plane. Trays of sandwiches are thrown into the air and half-finished drinks are poured over the heads of passengers. People are screaming and crying.”

“I hope it goes well,” she whispered, a nervous flyer—to anyone in particular.

Julian recalls seeing a huge flash of white light above the plane’s wing, which seemed to plunge the plane into a dive.

“Now it’s all over,” Julianne remembers her mother, Maria, saying in an eerily quiet voice.

Then the screams of the other passengers and the roar of the engine seemed to disappear.

“Next thing I knew, I was no longer in the cabin,” Julianne told The New York Times.

“I was outside, in the fresh air. I didn’t get off the plane — the plane left me.”

Photo: YouTube

An unexpected feeling of fresh air

Julien, perhaps the only one in her class wearing a seatbelt, plunged into the heart of the Amazon on her own.

“There was almost nothing my parents hadn’t taught me about the forest.”

On the forest floor, Julianne assesses her injuries.

Dazed and confused, I assumed she had suffered a concussion. She also broke her collar bone and sustained cuts on her shoulder and calf.

“I lay there, almost like a fetus, for the rest of the day and a whole night, until the next morning,” she wrote.

Without her glasses, Julianne had a hard time finding her way around. Her priority was to find her mother.

Maria, who is an animal lover, gave her baby girl a gift that will help her rescue her. I was able to identify the croaking of frogs and the calls of birds around her. “I recognized the sounds of wildlife from Pangwana and knew I was in the same forest,” recalls Julianne.

It was not far from her home. But a wrong turn and he’ll walk deeper and deeper into the world’s largest rainforest. “There wasn’t anything my parents didn’t teach me about the woods. I just had to find that knowledge in my concussed head.”

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Julian knows the jungle

The teenage girl finally untangled herself from the plane seat and stumbled forward blindly. She found a box of lollipops that must have fallen from the plane and walked along the river, just as her parents always taught her.

Her father had warned her that piranhas were only dangerous in shallow water, so she floated in the middle of the river hoping she would eventually meet other people.

The forest was in the middle of the rainy season, so it was raining relentlessly. Everything was too damp to set fire to. The tree did not bear fruit.

“A lot of what grows in the woods is poisonous, so keep my hands off anything I don’t know,” Julianne writes.

On the fourth day of her walk across the Amazon, the call of the royal eagles struck her with fear. The Scavengers only returned when something died. The call of the birds led Julien to a horrific sight.

Three passengers, still tethered to their row of seats, slammed into the ground so hard they half buried them in the dirt. One of the passengers was a woman, and Julianne checked her toes to make sure it wasn’t her mother.

“It was polished and took a deep breath. My mother never used nail polish on her nails.”

Julianne could hear the rescue planes looking for her, but the dense jungle canopy kept her hidden. She was sunburned, hungry and weak, and on the tenth day of her hike she was ready to give up.

“Icy drops hit me, soaking into my delicate summer dress. The wind makes me shiver to the core. On these gloomy nights, as I hide under a tree or in the bushes, I feel utterly deserted.”

Photo: YouTube

But then he saw something

But behind a bend in the river she saw her salvation: a small hut with a roof made of palm leaves. Inside I found a can of petrol.

The wound on her shoulder was infested with maggots.

She poured gasoline on the wound, as her father would do for a pet.

“The pain was excruciating as the worms tried to get deeper into the wound. I pulled out about 30 worms and was very proud of myself. I decided to spend the night there.”

The next day I was awakened by the sound of men and ran out of the hut.

The local fishermen in Peru were stunned to see the slender, dirty blonde girl.

“They thought I was some kind of water deity – a character from a local legend who is a hybrid of a water dolphin and a blonde, white woman,” she said.

But Julián’s parents gave her one last key to her survival: They taught her Spanish.

“I am a girl who was in Lansa’s accident,” she tells them in their native language.

“My name is Julian.”

Julien Kepke and director Werner Herzog, who shot the documentary about her adventure / Photo: YouTube

Why did Julian survive?

Over the years, Julianne has struggled to understand how she ended up being the sole survivor of LANSA Flight 508.

Ninety other people, including Maria Kepke, died in the accident. It is believed that 14 people survived the crash, but they didn’t make it out of the woods like Julien.

The cause of the plane crash was officially recorded as the airline’s deliberate decision to send the plane into dangerous weather conditions. Julian later learns that the plane was built entirely from parts from other planes.

With her stay, Julian becomes a member of a small club. Dozens of people fell from planes and got away relatively unscathed.

23-year-old Serbian flight attendant, Vensa Volovi, survived the longest known fall from a plane without a parachute, just a year after Julian.

An midair explosion in 1972 plunged Venza 9 km into deep snow in Czechoslovakia. He suffered a fractured skull, two broken legs and a broken back.

However, he lived. And no one can explain why.

Julianne has various theories as to how she was able to return safe and sound. He wonders if the powerful storm slowed its descent, if the thick canopy of leaves softened its descent.

Now a biologist, she sees the world as her parents did

In her mind, her airplane seat spins like a maple leaf seed, and she spins like a tiny helicopter through the air with remarkable grace.

The forces of nature are usually too great for any living being to overcome. But sometimes, very rarely, fate favors a little creature.

Modernization, an umbrella better than leaves and sheer luck can conspire to return a girl safely to the ground like a maple seed.

This girl grew up to be a famous scientist who studied bats.

She still runs Panguana, her family’s legacy that stands proudly in the jungle she transformed.

“The jungle is as much a love for me as it is for my husband, the music of the people who live along the Amazon and its tributaries, and the scars left by the plane crash,” she said.

* With data from