Juliane Koepcke, among the wreckage of LANSA Flight 508 in the Peruvian jungle.
|Born||Juliane Margaret Koepcke
10 October 1954
|Known for||Sole survivor of LANSA Flight 508, aged 17.|
Juliane Diller (born 10 October 1954 in Lima as Juliane Margaret Koepcke) is best known for being the sole survivor of 93 passengers and crew in the December 24, 1971, crash of LANSA Flight 508 (a LANSA Lockheed Electra OB-R-941 commercial airliner) in the Peruvian rainforest. After her airliner broke up in midair, she survived after falling about 10,000 feet still strapped to her airliner seat, before the seat crashed through the rainforest canopy and came to rest on the forest floor.
Airplane crash 
Juliane Koepcke was a German Peruvian high school senior student studying in Lima, intending to become a zoologist, like her parents. She and her mother, ornithologist Maria Koepcke, were traveling to meet with her father, biologist Hans-Wilhelm Koepcke, who was working in the city of Pucallpa.
The airplane was struck by lightning during a severe thunderstorm and broke up in mid-air, disintegrating at 3.2 km (10,000 ft). Koepcke, who was seventeen years old at the time, fell to earth still strapped into her seat. She survived the fall with only a broken collarbone, a gash to her right arm, and her right eye swollen shut. "I was definitely strapped in [the airplane seat] when I fell," she remembered. "It must have turned and buffered the crash, otherwise I wouldn't have survived."
Her first priority was to find her mother, who had been seated next to her on the plane but her search was unsuccessful. With her eyeglasses lost and one eye swollen shut, she struggled to no avail. She later found out her mother had survived the crash as well, but was badly injured and died several days later.
Koepcke found some sweets (candies) which were to become her only food on her trip. After looking for her mother and other passengers, she was soon able to locate a small stream. She then waded through knee-high water downstream from her landing site, relying on the survival principle her father had taught her, that tracking downstream should eventually lead to civilization. The stream also provided clean water and a natural path through the dense rainforest vegetation.
During the trip, Koepcke couldn't sleep at night due to numerous insect bites, which became infected. After nine days, several spent floating downstream, she found a boat moored near a shelter, where she found the boat's motor and fuel tank. Relying again on her father's advice, Koepcke poured gasoline on her wounds, which managed to extract thirty five maggots from one arm, then waited until some men came. "I remained there but I wanted to leave. I didn't want to take the boat because I didn't want to steal it." Hours later, the lumbermen who used the shelter arrived and tended to her injuries and bug infestations. The next morning they took her via a seven-hour canoe ride down the river to a lumber station in the Tournavista District. With the help of a local pilot, she was airlifted to a hospital – and her waiting father – in Pucallpa.
Subsequent events 
|“||I had nightmares for a long time, for years, and of course the grief about my mother's death and that of the other people came back again and again. The thought Why was I the only survivor? haunts me. It always will.||”|
—Juliane Koepcke, 2010
Her experience was widely reported and is the subject of two feature length documentary films. The first was I miracoli accadono ancora (1974) by Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Maria Scotese; it was released in English as Miracles Still Happen (1975) and is sometimes called The Story of Juliane Koepcke. Twenty-five years later, director Werner Herzog revisited the story in his film Wings of Hope (2000). Herzog was inspired to make the film as he narrowly avoided taking the very same flight while he was location scouting for Aguirre, Wrath of God. His reservation was canceled due to a last minute change in itinerary.
Koepcke moved to Germany, where she fully recovered from her injuries. Like her parents, she studied biology at the University of Kiel, graduating in 1980. She received a doctorate from Ludwig-Maximilian University and returned to Peru to conduct research in mammalogy, specializing in bats. Koepcke published her thesis, Ecological study of a bat colony in the tropical rain forest of Peru, in 1987. Now known as Juliane Diller, she serves as librarian at the Bavarian State Zoological Collection in Munich. Her autobiography, Als ich vom Himmel fiel (When I Fell From the Sky), was released on March 10, 2011 by Piper Verlag, for which she received the Corine Literature Prize in 2011.
- Koepcke, Juliane (2011). Als ich vom Himmel fiel (in German). Munich: Piper Malik. ISBN 978-3-89029-389-9.
- When I Fell From the Sky, Titletown Publishing, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9837547-0-1
See also 
- "The Top Wilderness Survival Stories". Outside Online. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
- "Survivor still haunted by 1971 air crash". CNN.com. 2009-07-02. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
- From an interview published in Vice, Sept. 2010: Littlewood, Tom (January 2011). "After the Fall". Harper's (Harper's Foundation) (1,928): 20–23. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
- "Juliane Koepcke: How I survived a plane crash". BBC News. 24 March 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
- "Survivor Didn't Want To Steal Boat". The News and Courier. 9 Jan 1972. Retrieved 11 Jan 2011.
- "IMDb: The Story of Juliane Koepcke (1975)". Internet Movie Database. 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
- "IMDb: Wings of Hope (TV 2000)". Internet Movie Database. 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
- Herzog, Werner (2001). Herzog on Herzog. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-20708-1.
- Francois Vuilleumier (2002). "Hans-Wilhelm Koepcke". Ornitologia Neotropical 13 (2): 215–218.
- Juliane Koepcke (1987). Ökologische Studien an einer Fledermaus-Artengemeinschaft im tropischen Regenwald von Peru. OCLC 230848237. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
- Diller, Juliane and Rygiert, Beate (2011). Als ich vom Himmel fiel: Wie mir der Dschungel mein Leben zurückgab. Malik. ISBN 978-3-89029-389-9.
- Plane Crashes Since 1970 with a Sole Survivor. airsafe.com
- BBC interview with Juliane Koepcke 2012, mp3 file