December 24, 1971 - Juliane Köpcke was seventeen years old when she and her mother boarded a flight out of Lima, Peru. The Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop carried 86 passengers and 6 crew members.
At 21,000 feet the flight ran into a severe thunderstorm and violent turbulence. A lightning strike ignited a fuel tank in the right wing and a massive explosion soon followed. The plane literally disintegrated.
Miraculously, Juliane Köpcke survived the 2-mile fall to earth. She landed in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. When she awoke she was still strapped in her seat with a broken collarbone and a deep cut in her right arm.
She was the sole survivor. For nine days she followed a small stream until she found some lumberjacks who were able to tend to her badly infected wounds. After a 7-hour canoe trip she was airlifted back to civilization.
Juliane Köpcke grew up to be a zoologist. She settled in Munich, Germany where she is an expert in the study of bats.