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Thread: Amazing Parachute Survival Falls of WWII

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    Default Amazing Parachute Survival Falls of WWII

    In World War II there were several reports of military aircrew surviving long falls: Nick Alkemade (UK), Alan Magee (USA), and Ivan Chisov (USSR) all fell at least 18,000 feet (5,500 metres) and survived.


    STEPHEN ALKEMADE
    Flight Sergeant Nicholas Stephen Alkemade (1923 – 1987) was a tail gunner for a Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster bomber during World War II who survived a fall of 18,000 feet (5500 m) without a parachute after his plane was shot down over Germany.

    On 24 March 1944, 21 year old Alkemade was a member of No. 115 Squadron RAF and his Lancaster II "S for Sugar" was flying to the east of Schmallenberg, Germany on its return from a 300 bomber raid on Berlin, when it was attacked by a Luftwaffe Junkers Ju-88 night-fighter, caught fire and began to spiral out of control. Because his parachute was destroyed by the fire, Alkemade opted to jump from the aircraft without one, preferring his death to be quick, rather than being burnt to death. He fell 18,000 ft (5500 m) to the ground below. His fall was broken by pine trees and a soft snow cover on the ground. He was able to move his arms and legs and suffered only a sprained leg. The Lancaster crashed in flames and the pilot Jack Newman and three other members of the seven man crew did not survive and are buried in Hanover War Cemetery.

    He was subsequently captured and interviewed by the Gestapo who were initially suspicious of his claim to have fallen without a parachute until the wreckage of the aircraft was examined. He was then a celebrated POW before being repatriated in May 1945. (Reportedly the orderly Germans were so impressed that Alkemade had bailed out without a parachute and lived that they gave him a certificate testifying to the fact.)


    ALAN MAGEE
    Alan Eugene Magee (1919 – 2003) was an American airman during World War II who survived a 22,000 ft (6700 m) fall from his damaged B-17 Flying Fortress. He was featured in Smithsonian Magazine as one of the 10 most amazing survival stories of World War II.

    On 3 January 1943, Magee's B-17 was on a daylight bombing run over Saint-Nazaire, France when German fighters shot off a section of the right wing causing the aircraft to enter a deadly spin. This was Magee's seventh mission.

    Magee was wounded in the attack but managed to escape from the ball turret. Unfortunately, his parachute had been damaged and rendered useless by the attack, so having no choice, he leapt from the plane without a parachute, rapidly losing consciousness due to the altitude.

    Magee fell over four miles before crashing through the glass roof of the St. Nazaire railroad station. Somehow the glass roof mitigated Magee's impact and rescuers found him still alive on the floor of the station.

    Magee was taken as a prisoner of war and given medical treatment by his captors. He had 28 shrapnel wounds in addition to the damage from the fall. He had several broken bones, severe damage to his nose and eye, and lung and kidney damage, and his right arm was nearly severed.

    Magee was liberated in May 1945 and received the Air Medal for meritorious conduct and the Purple Heart. After the war Magee earned his pilot's license and enjoyed flying. He worked in the airline industry in a variety of roles. He retired in 1979 and moved to northern New Mexico.

    On 3 January 1993 the people of St. Nazaire honored Magee and the crew of his bomber by erecting a 6-foot (1.8 m) tall memorial to them.


    IVAN CHISOV
    Ivan Mikhailovich Chisov was a Soviet Airforce Lieutenant who is notable for surviving a fall of nearly 22,000 ft (6700 m).

    Lieutenant Chisov was a Soviet Airforce Lieutenant on an Ilyushin Il-4 bomber. In January 1942, German fighters attacked his bomber, forcing him to bail out at an altitude of approximately 22,000 feet (6700 meters). With the battle still raging around him, Lt. Chisov intentionally did not open his parachute, since he feared that he would just be an easy target for an angry German while he was dangling from his parachute harness. He planned on dropping below the level of the battle, and then, once he was out of sight of the German fighters, he would open his chute and land safely. However, he lost consciousness on the way down, and was unable to pull the rip cord.

    Miraculously, he was not killed. He hit the edge of a snowy ravine at an estimated speed of somewhere between 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers) and 150 mph (241 km), then slid, rolled, and plowed his way down to the bottom. He suffered spinal injuries and a broken pelvis, but was able to fly again three months later.

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    Senior Member KEEPER0311's Avatar
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    Some very lucky guys. Great post HW.

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    Question: Do you make a sound like a bomb when you are falling through the air that wait?

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    Senior Member Pandemonium's Avatar
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    10,160 meters (33,333 feet), is the highest by a Serbian flight attendant Vesna Vulović

    here are some others:

    [*******red]Olen Cooper Bryant[/COLOR] Olen Cooper Bryant was the group navigator on a 485th Bomb Group mission to Regensburg, Germany in February of 1945. On the return trip from the target his B-24 was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire in the #3 engine. The aircraft turned to the left and collided with another B-24 in the formation. The aircraft were at an altitude of about 17,000 feet at this point. Bryant fell an estimated 10,000 feet into the mountains near Chiusaforte, Italy. He landed in deep snow. His fall had been observed by two gunners, who dragged him down the side of the mountain in a makeshift stretcher constructed from one of their parachutes. Bryant suffered neck, back, pelvic, and facial injuries but survived.
    [*******red]Arthur Frechette[/COLOR] In December of 1944 Arthur Frechette was the navigator of a 301st Bomb Group B-17 that went down on a mission to Castelfranco, Vento, Italy. Hit at 25,000 feet by flak, the aircraft went into a spin and Frechette was unable to get out. He was blown out of the aircraft when it exploded and fell unconscious, hitting on a snowy incline just as he regained consciousness and tried to open his parachute. Badly injured, Frechette crawled toward the smoke billowing up from the wrecked aircraft. It was near there that he was found by a German soldier from the flak battery. [*******red]Paddy McGarry[/COLOR] In January of 1944 Flight Lieutenant Thomas Patrick "Paddy" McGarry was a navigator on a 35 Squadron Halifax bomber on a mission to Germany. About halfway between Hamburg and Magdeburg the bomber was attacked by night fighters and set on fire. The bailout order was given when the aircraft was at about 13,000 feet. McGarry jumped and pulled his ripcord, but nothing happened. He fell into a wooded area where his fall was broken by the branches of fir trees. He fell on Monday night and did not awaken until Wednesday morning. His survival was aided by unseasonably warm temperatures. After days in the woods McGarry was able to crawl a mile or so to a road where he found help. It was Sunday before he was discovered.

    There is a whole interesting site on this subject:
    http://www.greenharbor.com/fffolder/ffresearch.html

    And other good stories:

    William Rankin: In 1959, Lt. Col. William Rankin was flying at 47,000 feet when he had to eject from his F8U jet over Norfolk, Virginia due to an engine failure. He parachuted into the middle of a severe thunderstorm that carried him over 65 miles to Rich Square, North Carolina. The trip took over 40 minutes.

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    Senior Member Dercius's Avatar
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    Nicholas Alkemade survived a few more amazing accidents like beign hit and trapped by a steel column weighting a few hundred kilos that fall on top of him. He also survived another accident involving acid burns. And AFAIK his last amazing survival was a combo which involved beign knocked uncious by high voltage electrical discharge and falling right after inside a chlorine pool. So in my opinion he was one of the luckiest men ever. He died aged 64 and he always thought that the 43 years he lived after the big fall were a gift given to him.

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    Senior Member SniperLane's Avatar
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    there was this german fighter pilot i read about in a book ill try to find it

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    good articles to read..!

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    Senior Member Marmot1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dercius View Post
    Nicholas Alkemade survived a few more amazing accidents like beign hit and trapped by a steel column weighting a few hundred kilos that fall on top of him. He also survived another accident involving acid burns. And AFAIK his last amazing survival was a combo which involved beign knocked uncious by high voltage electrical discharge and falling right after inside a chlorine pool. So in my opinion he was one of the luckiest men ever. He died aged 64 and he always thought that the 43 years he lived after the big fall were a gift given to him.

    But nothing will beat the guy who was bombed in Hiroshima and was evacuated to Nagasaki... he died around a month ago. His account was verified by Japanese authorities since he was eligible to additional social benefits as an atomic bomb(s) victim.

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    Senior Member JJHH's Avatar
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    Incredible stuff..

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    Blimey, those are some truely crazy stories. It must have been so wierd to recover, look up and see planes and be like, I fell from there, and made it. Interesting note on the fir trees, I was thinking the other week if it was possible to survive that kind of fall if you used trees to break your fall.

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    How to Surive Falls From 15,000 ft or Above 101:

    1. Make sure you don't land on your head.
    2. Land on your butt, has the most meat for absorbing the impact.
    3. Make sure that there is snow
    4. Make sure you fall into trees, try to make it to a fir tree if you can.

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    Senior Member Pandemonium's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doctor rizz View Post
    How to Surive Falls From 15,000 ft or Above 101:

    1. Make sure you don't land on your head.
    2. Land on your butt, has the most meat for absorbing the impact.
    3. Make sure that there is snow
    4. Make sure you fall into trees, try to make it to a fir tree if you can.
    Not really, Vesna Vulović, who survived the highest fall ever landed on her back in a field that was freshly ploughed

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    Banned user Martial's Avatar
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    “If you ever fall from 22,000 ft., just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.”

    -Jack Handey

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pandemonium View Post
    Not really, Vesna Vulović, who survived the highest fall ever landed on her back in a field that was freshly ploughed
    AFAIK she didn't land all by herself, but rather in the tail section of a DC 9, with the vertical stabilizer acting as some kind of almost parachute.

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