Abstract

On January 26, 1972, Vesna Vulović fell from an exploding airplane onto a frozen mountainside in northern Czechoslovakia—and survived. The 33,330 feet physical downfall of the Serbian flight attendant is registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest free fall a human has lived through. The reason her JAT Flight 367 exploded that day remains unknown. The local investigation committee claimed there had been a bomb planted by a Croatian nationalist group. Soon afterwards, the Yugoslav government singled out the criminals as the fascist terrorist organization Ustaše, though the group had been dormant since the end of World War II. In recent years, some journalists concluded that the plane was shot down by mistake by the Czechoslovak Air Force—a claim that the Czech Civilian Aviation Authority immediately dismissed as a conspiracy theory. The reason Vesna survived is as controversial as the cause of explosion. Nevertheless, there is a simple explanation for why she fell from the sky, thanks to Sir Isaac Newton: gravity was at work.

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