Top 5 Amazing Free Fall Survivors

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

5. James Boole: the extreme sports lover who survived a 6,000 ft fall without a parachute

A skydiver from Staffordshire plunged 6,000 ft without a parachute in Russia and survived to tell the tale. Hitting rocks at an estimate 100 kilometers per hour, miracle man 31-year-old James Boole, from Tamworth, was filming a TV documentary in Russia when his parachute launched only seconds to the ground. James Boole failed to open his chute until it was too late after a communications error with a fellow extreme sport lover. Mr Boole landed on snow-covered rocks and suffered a broken back and rib.
4. Joe Herman: the Australian pilot who survived a free fall by grabbing a fellow flyer’s leg

Joe Herman, of the Royal Australian Air Force, was blown out of his bomber in 1944 without a parachute. He found himself falling through the night sky amid airplane debris and wildly grabbed a piece of it. It turned out to be not debris at all, but rather a fellow flyer, John Vivash, in the process of pulling his ripcord. The parachute inflated slowly, which helped Herman maintain his grasp on Vivash. Joe hung on and, as a courtesy, hit the ground first, breaking the fall of his savior and a mere two ribs of his own.
3. Nicholas Alkemade: the World War II tail gunner who survived a fall of 18,000 feet (5500) after his plane was shut down

On March 24, 1944, 21 year old Flight Sergeant Nicholas Stephen Alkemade was a member of No. 115 Squadron RAF and was flying to the east of Schmallenberg, Germany, when his plane was attacked by enemies, caught fire, and began to spiral out of control. Because his parachute was destroyed by the fire, Alkemade opted to jump from the aircraft without one, preferring his death to be quick, rather than being burnt to death. He fell 18,000 feet (5500 m) to the ground below. His fall was broken by pine trees and a soft snow cover on the ground. He was able to move his arms and legs and suffered only a sprained leg. When he came to his senses and saw stars overhead, he lit a cigarette.
He was subsequently captured and interviewed by the Gestapo. The orderly Germans were so impressed that Alkemade had bailed out without a parachute and lived, that they gave him a certificate testifying to the fact.
2. Bahia Bakari: the 14-year-old sole survivor of Yemenia Airways

Bahia Bakari is a French schoolgirl who became world famous as the sole survivor of Yemenia Flight 626, an Airbus A310, which crashed into the Indian Ocean near the north coast of Grande Comore, Comoros on June 30, 2009, killing all other 152 people on board. Bakari, who could barely swim and had no life vest, clung to aircraft wreckage, floating in heavy seas for more than 13 hours, much of it in pitch darkness, before being rescued by the Sima Com 2, a privately owned ship. As soon as Bakari was sighted, a member of the rescue team threw her a life preserver, but the waters were too rough, and she was too exhausted to grab it. One of the sailors, Maturaffi Sélémane Libounah, jumped into the water and handed her a flotation device, after which they were both pulled safely aboard the Sima Com 2, where she was given dry blankets and a hot drink. Her mother, who had been traveling with her from Paris, France, for a summer vacation in Comoros, died in the crash.
1. Dave Hodgman: the skydiver who got tangled up with another jumper at 2,500 feet

In March of 1985 Dave Hodgman jumped at 12,000 feet as part of a group that was attempting to build a formation in Victoria, Australia. He was unable to reach the group and moved away. When he opened his parachute at around 2,500 feet he did not realize he was below another jumper, who also did not realize he was there. The other jumper, named Frank, was just opening his own chute at the time. His body collided with Dave, knocking him out and tangling with his lines. The two men came down together under Frank’s inflated chute and Dave’s chute, which collapsed and reinflated through the entire ride. Frank had no control and the two came down between some cars in a packed-gravel parking lot. Dave was badly injured but returned to jumping within three months. Frank’s injuries were minor.


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