This Flight Attendant Plunged To Earth From 33,330 Feet – But Somehow She Lived To Tell The Tale
By Ken Macdonald
It’s 3:15 p.m. on January 26, 1972, and JAT Flight 367 has just taken off from Copenhagen Airport in Denmark. The plane, flying in the colors of the Yugoslav national airline JAT, is on a routine flight from the Danish capital to Belgrade in what was then called the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On board is 22-year-old flight attendant Vesna Vulovic – who’s only been in the role for a scant eight months. But in about 45 minutes, her life will change forever.
Before Vulovic found her passion for flying, though, she was more interested in rock’n’roll. Born in the Yugoslavian capital Belgrade in 1950 to a businessman father and physical trainer mother, she later traveled to the U.K. to improve her English – and catch sight of The Beatles. And this overseas stint came after a year spent at college studying modern languages.
But despite the allure of the British boyband – who had burst on to the international scene in the early 1960s – the Belgrade native didn’t remain in the country for long. After teaming up with a friend in London for a while, Vulovic then decided to move on to Stockholm in Sweden.
And the Belgrade native recalled in a 2002 interview with the website Green Light, “When I told my parents I was living in the Swedish capital, they thought of the drugs and the sex and told me to come home at once.” Yet seemingly this move home proved fortuitous, as it was back in Belgrade that she met a friend who was a flight attendant.
Vulovic remembered admiring her friend’s uniform – and her job. “She looked so nice and had just been to London for the day. I thought, ‘Why shouldn’t I be an air hostess? I could go to London once a month,’” she told Green Light. And so she duly signed up with Yugoslavia’s national carrier JAT in 1971.