JAT Yugoslav Airlines Flight 367 was a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 aircraft (registration YU-AHT) which exploded shortly after overflying NDB Hermsdorf (located in or around Hinterhermsdorf, in the present-day municipality of Sebnitz), East Germany, while on route from Stockholm to Belgrade on 26 January 1972. The aircraft, piloted by captain Ludvik Razdrih and first officer Ratko Mihić, broke into three pieces and spun out of control, crashing near the village of Srbská Kamenice in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). Of the 28 on board, 27 were killed upon ground impact and one Yugoslav crew member, Vesna Vulović, survived.[1]

JAT Airways Flight 367
JAT DC-9 (7107744587).jpg
JAT DC-9 YU-AHL, sister ship of the aircraft involved
Bombing
Date26 January 1972
SummaryBombing
SiteSrbská Kamenice, Czechoslovakia
Aircraft
Aircraft typeMcDonnell Douglas DC-9-32
OperatorJAT Yugoslav Airlines
RegistrationYU-AHT
Flight originStockholm-Arlanda Airport
Stockholm, Sweden
StopoverCopenhagen Airport
Copenhagen, Denmark
Last stopoverZagreb Airport
Zagreb, Yugoslavia
DestinationBelgrade Airport
Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Passengers23
Crew5
Fatalities27
Injuries1 (Vesna Vulović)
Survivors1 flight attendant (Vesna Vulović)
Intended route of flight 367

CauseEdit

The secondary crew of JAT Flight 367, flying from Stockholm to Belgrade with stopovers in Copenhagen and Zagreb, arrived in Denmark on the morning of 25 January 1972.[2] Flight 367 departed from Stockholm Arlanda Airport at 1:30 p.m. on 26 January. The aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, landed at Copenhagen Airport at 2:30 p.m., where it was taken over by Vulović and her colleagues.[3] "As it was late, we were in the terminal and saw it park," Vulović said. "I saw all the passengers and crew deplane. One man seemed terribly annoyed. It was not only me that noticed him either. Other crew members saw him, as did the station manager in Copenhagen. I think it was the man who put the bomb in the baggage. I think he had checked in a bag in Stockholm, got off in Copenhagen and never re-boarded the flight."[2]

Flight 367 departed from Copenhagen Airport at 3:15 p.m. At 4:01 p.m., an explosion tore through the DC-9's baggage compartment.[3] The explosion caused the aircraft to break apart over the Czechoslovak village of Srbská Kamenice.[4] Vulović was the only survivor of the 28 passengers and crew.[5][6] She was near the rear of the aircraft at the time of the explosion but this is disputed. Some reports stated she was at the back when the explosion occurred, but she has said she was told that she was found in the middle section of the plane.[7] Vulović was discovered by villager Bruno Honke, who heard her screaming amid the wreckage. Her turquoise uniform was covered in blood and her 3-inch (76 mm) stiletto heels had been torn off by the force of the impact.[4] Honke had been a medic during World War II and was able to keep her alive until rescuers arrived.[2][8] Vulović was in a coma for 27 days and was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, but survived.[9] She continued working for the airline, holding a desk job.[10]

Between 1962 and 1982, Croatian nationalists carried out 128 terror attacks against Yugoslavian civilian and military targets.[11] The Yugoslav authorities suspected that émigré Croatian terrorists (Ustashe) were to blame for bringing down Flight 367.[12] The day of the crash, a bomb exploded aboard a train travelling from Vienna to Zagreb, injuring six.[13] A man, describing himself as a Croatian nationalist, called the Swedish newspaper Kvällsposten the following day and claimed responsibility for the bombing of Flight 367.[14] No arrests were ever made.[15] The Czechoslovak Civil Aviation Authority later attributed the explosion to a briefcase bomb.[16]

 
Last 20 min of the flight
 
Debris distribution of Flight 367

Shootdown conspiracy theoryEdit

The officially stated cause of the crash was challenged occasionally over the years by conspiracy theories. For example, in 1997 the Czech periodical Letectví a kosmonautika reported that the plane was shot down by mistake by Czechoslovak air defenses.[17]

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.[18][19] Allegedly 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.[10][20] All the evidence suggesting that the plane was destroyed at high altitude by explosives placed in a suitcase would be therefore forged by Czechoslovak secret police.

As evidence that the DC-9 had broken up at a lower altitude, the journalists 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.[10][19] 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.[10] However, Hornung himself stated that for his theory "there are only indications, no evidence".[18][19]

SkepticismEdit

Vesna Vulović (who had no memory of the crash or the flight after boarding[10]) referred to the claims that the plane attempted a forced landing or descended to such low altitude as a "nebulous nonsense".[21] A representative of Guinness World Records, according to the German paper Die Tageszeitung, stated that "it seems that at the time Guinness was duped by this swindle just like the rest of the media."[10]

The Czech Civilian Aviation Authority dismissed the conspiracy theory as media speculation, that appears from time to time. Its spokeswoman added that Authority experts would not comment on them[22] and that findings of the official investigation are being questioned mostly because of the media attractiveness of the story.[23]

The Czech magazine Technet quoted a 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 be approximately 150–200 people knowing about the incident. They would not have any reason to not tell about the incident today." A potential missile launch would be audible and especially visible for thousands of people long afterwards. He further claims that for the Yugoslavian plane, it was technically impossible to dive in a "state of emergency" from the proven flight level to the low altitude and place where it was allegedly shot down. He also states that the debris area wasn't "too small" but that the main parts were more than 1.5 km apart.[24][25]

Additionally, the Czechoslovak Air Defense soldier who operated the radar that very day stated in a 2009 interview that any Czechoslovak jet fighters would be noticed by the West German Air Defense.[23]

The main evidence against such a theory is the flight data obtained from the black box, which provided the exact data about the time, speed, direction, acceleration and altitude of the plane at the moment of the explosion. Both black boxes were opened and analysed by the service companies in Amsterdam in the presence of experts from Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the Dutch Aviation Office (Raad voor de Luchtvaart).[26]

Vulović's fall was the subject of a MythBusters episode, which concluded it was possible to survive the fall depending on how the wreckage someone was sitting in landed.[27]

Vesna VulovićEdit

Vulović holds the official record in the Guinness Book of Records for the highest fall survived without a parachute.[7] Vulović received the Guinness prize from Paul McCartney.[7]

A major celebrity in communist Yugoslavia, Vulović was a frequent guest on major Yugoslav television 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 a local hotel called Pension Vesna in the Czech Republic, near the site of the crash.[28]

Discovery Channel in the program Against all Odds also profiled Vulović's fall to earth.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Official abstract of final report (english) (Archive)
  2. ^ a b c "Vesna Vulovic: How to survive a bombing at 33,000 feet". Aviation Security Magazine. April 2002. Archived from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Souhrnná Zpráva" (PDF) (in Czech). Zpráva vydaná komisí Federálního ministerstva dopravy ČCSR. 19 June 1972. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b Bilefsky, Dan (26 April 2008). "Serbia's Most Famous Survivor Fears That Recent History Will Repeat Itself". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  5. ^ Sandomir, Richard (28 December 2016). "Vesna Vulovic, Flight Attendant Who Survived Jetliner Blast, Dies at 66". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  6. ^ "Vesna Vulovic, air stewardess who survived a plane crash – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 3 January 2017. Archived from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "Interview with Vesna Vulovic". avsec.com. April 2002. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  8. ^ White, Colin (2010). Projectile Dynamics in Sport: Principles and Applications. London: Routledge. p. 305. ISBN 978-1-13402-762-0.
  9. ^ "ACCIDENT DETAILS". planecrashinfo.com. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Kate Connolly: Woman who fell to earth: was air crash survivor's record just propaganda? The Guardian, 13 January 2009
  11. ^ Pluchinsky, Dennis (2010). "Ethnic Terrorism: Themes and Variations". In Tan, Andrew T.H. (ed.). Politics of Terrorism: A Survey. London: Routledge. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-13683-336-6.
  12. ^ Richard West (15 November 2012). Tito and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia. Faber & Faber. pp. 179–. ISBN 978-0-571-28110-7.
  13. ^ Rebić, Đuro (1987). Špijuni, diverzanti, teroristi: Ostaci kontrarevolucije u Jugoslaviji (in Serbo-Croatian). Zagreb: Centar za informacije i publicitet. p. 354. ISBN 978-8-67125-009-2.
  14. ^ "Njemački mediji o slučaju JAT 1972: Napad hrvatske emigracije je plod mašte tajnih službi". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 9 January 2009. Archived from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Vesna Vulovic, stewardess who survived 33,000ft fall, dies". BBC News. 24 December 2016. Archived from the original on 24 July 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Official Abstract of the Final Report (English)" (PDF). Czechoslovak Civil Aviation Authority. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 November 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  17. ^ Šírová, Tereza. "Teroristický útok nad ČSSR přežila jen letuška, padala z 10 km". Technet.cz. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  18. ^ a b BIENE, JANUSZ (9 January 2009). "Geheimdienst erfand Bombenattentat". die Tageszeitung. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  19. ^ a b c "Aktuelle Nachrichten - Inland Ausland Wirtschaft Kultur Sport - ARD Tagesschau". tagesschau.de. Archived from the original on 2 February 2010.
  20. ^ Ben Leach: Serbian flight attendant's fall from 10,000 metres was 'hoax' The Daily Telegraph, 14 January 2009
  21. ^ "'Nismo letjeli na stotinjak metara' - Jutarnji List". www.jutarnji.hr.
  22. ^ ČTK. "Yugoslav plane was probably shot down in 1972 by Czechs – ARD". České noviny.cz. Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  23. ^ a b "Sestřelení jugoslávského letadla Čechy by se neutajilo, míní pamětník od radaru". iDNES.cz. 15 January 2009.
  24. ^ "Seriál: Teroristický útok nad ČSSR přežila jen letuška, padala z 10 km". iDNES.cz. 26 January 2012.
  25. ^ Šírová, Tereza. "Sestřelení civilního letadla armádou? Popírá to fyziku, říká odborník". Technet.cz. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  26. ^ "Souhrnná zpráva Státní letecké inspekce o šetření příčin letecké nehody (NA, ÚCL, karton 84, sg. 2/1972)". National Archives (Czech Republic). Archived from the original on 16 September 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  27. ^ "MythBusters: Escape Slide Parachute". TV.com.
  28. ^ "Pension a restaurant VESNA - Srbská Kamenice". www.ceskehory.cz.

External linksEdit