Five Absolutely Amazing Human Endurance Feats

Published August 5, 2013
Updated February 9, 2018

Amazing Human Endurance Feats: Juliane Koepcke’s Incredible Survival Story

In one of the most improbable and death-defying cases of human endurance, Juliane Koepcke survived more than 9 days in the Peruvian rainforest after her plane was struck by lighting mid air and shattered to pieces.

At just 17 years old, Juliane had been traveling with her mother and 91 other passengers when the plane made its fatal descent. After the plane dissembled, Juliane fell a staggering two miles to the rainforest grounds below, still strapped to her airline seat. Miraculously, she only suffered a broken collarbone and a swollen eye.

With all other passengers dead, Koepcke trekked down stream to try and find civilization like her father had taught her, surviving only on the airline sweets she could find after the crash. Continuing on with maggot-infested wounds, Koepcke eventually took refuge on the river bank and was rescued by a team of lumberjacks who flew her to the nearest hospital where her father was waiting.

If you think Koepcke’s survival story has celluloid potential, you’re not alone: two films have been made charting Koepcke’s dramatic journey. Now, though, things are a lot less turbulent for Koepcke; upon finishing her award-winning autobiography in 2011, she now works as a librarian in Munich.

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Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.