JAT Flight 367

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JAT Airways Flight 367
Bombing summary
Date 26 January 1972
Summary Bombing
Site Srbská Kamenice, Czechoslovakia
Passengers 23
Crew 5
Injuries (non-fatal) 1
Fatalities 27
Survivors 1 (Vesna Vulović)
Aircraft type McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32
Operator JAT Yugoslav Airlines
Registration YU-AHT
Flight origin Stockholm-Arlanda Airport
Stockholm, Sweden
Stopover Copenhagen Airport
Copenhagen, Denmark
Last stopover Zagreb Airport
Zagreb, Yugoslavia
Destination Belgrade Airport
Belgrade, Yugoslavia
A different, but identical JAT DC-9

JAT Yugoslav Airlines Flight 367 was a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 aircraft (registration YU-AHT) which exploded shortly after overflying NDB Hermsdorf, East Germany, while en route from Stockholm to Belgrade on 26 January 1972. The aircraft, piloted by captain Ludvig Razdrih, broke into two pieces and spun out of control, crashing near the village of Srbská Kamenice in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). 27 of 28 of those on board were killed upon ground impact; but one Serbian crew member, Vesna Vulović, survived.[1]

Cause[edit]

Last 20 min of the flight

McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 was destroyed in flight by émigré Croatian terrorists (Ustaše) who had placed a bomb on board. Vesna Vulović was near the rear of the aircraft at the time of the explosion. The empennage of the aircraft was torn away from the main fuselage and both fell from 10,160 meters (33,000 feet) before impact with the ground.[citation needed] A food cart pinned her to the back of the plane during her fall, acting as a seat belt, thus preventing her from being sucked out of the plane during de-compression or the ensuing fall.[citation needed] Some reports stated she was at the back when the explosion occurred, but she has said she was told that she had been found in the middle section of the plane.[2]

Vulović was in a coma for 27 days and was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, but survived.[3] She continued working for the airline, holding a desk job.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

Vesna Vulović holds the official record in the Guinness Book of Records for the highest fall survived without a parachute.[2] Vulović received the Guinness prize from Paul McCartney.[2]

A major celebrity in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Vesna Vulović was a frequent guest at major Yugoslav TV shows such as Maksovizija by Milovan Ilić Minimaks, up until the 1990s. Vulović attended annual commemorations at the crash site, until they were stopped in 2002. The daughter of the firefighter that saved her bears her name, as well as the local hotel in Czech Republic, near the site of the crash.

The plane crash was a subject of MythBusters. Episode 37, "Escape Slide Parachute (Story of Vesna Vulović)" was devoted to her case.[5] The MythBusters concluded it was possible to survive the fall depending on how the wreckage someone was sitting in landed. Discovery Channel in their programme Against all Odds also profiled Vulović's fall to earth.

Challenges to the official cause[edit]

The officially stated cause of the crash was challenged on numerous occasions over the years.[citation needed][who?]

The discussion about different aspects of the crash was reopened on 8 January 2009, when German news magazine Tagesschau featured a report by investigative journalists Peter Hornung and Pavel Theiner.[6][7] Based on newly obtained documents mainly from the Czech Civil Aviation Authority, they concluded that it was extremely likely that the plane had been mistakenly shot down only a few hundred meters above the ground by a MiG fighter of the Czechoslovak Air Force, having been mistaken for an enemy aircraft while attempting a forced landing.[4][8]

As evidence that the DC-9 had broken up at a lower altitude, the report cited eyewitnesses from Srbská Kamenice, who had seen the plane burning but still intact below the low-hanging clouds, and confirmation of a Serbian aviation expert (who had been present at the crash site) that the debris area had been much too small for a crash from high altitude; it also referred to sightings of a second plane.[4][7] According to Hornung, flight 367 got into difficulties, "went into a steep descent and found itself over a sensitive military area", close to a nuclear weapons facility.[4] The Czech Civilian Aviation Authority dismissed the claims as media sensationalism, that occurs from time to time, while Vesna Vulović (who has no memory of the crash or the flight after boarding[4]) referred to the claims that the plane attempted a forced landing or descended to such low altitude as a "nebulous nonsense".[9] A representative of Guinness World Records stated that "it seems that at the time Guinness was duped by this swindle just like the rest of the media."[4]

However, one source[10] does not support such conspiracy theories and quotes Czech army expert:

In case of violation of the air space, the incident would not be solved by anti-air missiles, but by fighter planes. Also it would not be possible to conceal such incident, as there would approximately 150–200 people knowing about the incident. They would not have any reason to not tell about incident today.

Additionally, the Czechoslovak Air Defense soldier who operated the radar the very day stated in a 2009 interview[10] that any Czechoslovak jet fighters would be noticed by the West German Air Defense:

Even if the Czechoslovak authorities would conceal it, the West would not be silent.

The official from the Czech Civil Aviation Authority claims[10] that findings of the official investigation are being questioned mostly because of the media attractiveness of the story.

Investigative report shows that the explosion on board was 'from the inside out'.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°49′37″N 14°20′47″E / 50.82694°N 14.34639°E / 50.82694; 14.34639