June 4, 2024 | Jamie Hayes

Juliane Koepcke's Incredible Survival Story


An Incredible Story

One minute, Juliane Koepcke was sitting comfortably next to her mother on board LANSA Flight 508 to Peru. The next, she was hurtling through the air. When she finally came to a stop on the ground, she was miraculously still alive—but her nightmare was only beginning.

Jkgallery

Her Parents Were Scientists

Juliane Koepcke was born in Lima, Peru, to two German zoologists, Maria and Hans-Wilhelm Koepcke. The couple worked at Lima's Museum of Natural History. Her life was anything but ordinary.

Dr. Juliane Koepcke in the Talkshow ullstein bild , Getty Images

They Protected The Jungle

Juliane's parents first moved to Peru to study wildlife, but they also became deeply involved in conservation, lobbying to protect the jungle from clear-cutting, hunting, and colonization—and Juliane was along for the ride.

Portrait of  Hans-Wilhelm KoepckeJuliane Koepcke , Wikimedia Commons

They Built A Home In The Forest

Juliane grew up in Peru as her parents continued their work. When she was 14, they left Lima to establish the Panguana research station deep in the Amazon rainforest—and once again, young Juliane was right there with them.

Peruvian-German conservationist Juliane Koepcke poses during an interview with AFP in Lima on October 10, 2014.ERNESTO BENAVIDES, Getty Images

She Learned About The Jungle

While most teenage girls are making friends or chasing crushes, Juliane was with her parents in the depths of the Amazon rainforest, learning how to survive in one of the most dangerous places on Earth.

Portrait of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - 2019Cancillería del Perú, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

She Knew Of The Dangers

Koepcke, now Juliane Diller, later spoke of these early days in the jungle: “I grew up knowing that nothing is really safe, not even the solid ground I walked on". Knowing this would soon become the difference between life and death.

Portrait of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - 2019Cancillería del Perú, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

She Was A Jungle Child

Koepcke's youth spent in the jungle didn't just teach her how dangerous it could be, she also learned about its beauty and majestic. 

"It's not the green hell that the world always thinks". She started calling herself a "Jungle Child" when she was young. The name turned out to be an omen.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Had To Get A Degree

Juliane's zoologist parents gave their daughter an education unlike any other—but educational authorities didn't exactly consider it the equivalent of a degree. When she was 17, she had to return to Lima to take her exams.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Wanted To Stay One More Night

Juliane passed her exams and graduated from the Deutsche Schule Lima Alexander von Humboldt German international school on December 23, 1971. Her mother had wanted to leave earlier, but Juliane begged to stay just one more night.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Went To Her School Dance

The teenage Juliane already spent enough time alone in the jungle, so she begged her mom to let her stay for the dance. Because of that, their flight home was booked for the following day: Christmas Eve, 1971.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

They Took The Last Flight

LANSA Flight 508 was the very last available flight to Panguana, aboard a Lockheed L-188 Electra. Koepcke's father knew of the plane well—for the worst reasons.

Screenshot of Airport sign - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

Their Plane Was Infamous

Out of the 170 Electras that were built, 58 of them either crashed or suffered extreme malfunctions. When Koepcke's father heard what plane they were booked on, he urged them not to take it.

Screenshot of Plane at Airport - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

They Didn't Listen

Juliane and her mother didn't want to miss Christmas, so they disregarded her father's advice and booked the flight anyway. The bad signs started immediately.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

They Were Hours Behind Schedule

To their frustration, the flight on December 24th ended up being seven hours late. The passengers and crew were all frustrated and exhausted by the time they got on board.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

The Flight Was Supposed To Last An Hour

The flight was only scheduled to last an hour. Near the back, Juliane took the window seat while her mother sat in the aisle. They ate sandwiches, and 45 minutes went by without incident. Then things went wrong fast.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

The Sky Went Black

15 minutes before reaching their destination, the sky suddenly went pitch black. Lightning started to flash all around the plane, and chaos broke out in the cabin.

Screenshot of plane cockpit - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

They Were Shaken Like A Paint Can

Turbulence struck the cabin hard. Baggage started falling from overhead, drinks and food flew everywhere, and the passengers started screaming and crying. But this was just the beginning.

Screenshot of  Juliane Koepcke holding hands in plane - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Hoped It Would Be Alright

Maria Koepcke was already a nervous flier. Juliane remembered hearing her mother murmur, "I hope this goes alright". Her prayers went unanswered.

Screenshot of plane cabin with people - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

Lightning Struck

Suddenly a flash of lightning brighter than any of the rest exploded over the plane's wing. It was a direct hit.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

They Went Into A Nosedive

As soon as the lightning struck, the plane lurched into a nosedive. Eerily calm this time, Maria whispered, "That is the end, it's all over". Then suddenly, Juliane was airborne.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

The Plane Ripped Apart 

The plane immediately started breaking apart when the lightning hit. As it broke apart, Juliane and her entire seat were suddenly thrown out of the plane and into the air.

Screenshot of plane cockpit - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

The Plane Left Her

Remembering that moment, Koepcke said, “The next thing I knew, I was no longer inside the cabin. I was outside, in the open air. I hadn’t left the plane; the plane had left me".

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Was Still Strapped In

Koepcke was properly buckled up when the lightning hit. Did that save her? It's hard to say. It did mean that she was still buckled into her seat as she plummeted 10,000 feet through the air.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Blacked Out

Koepcke had only an instant to even realize what had happened and look down at the canopy far below before she blacked out from the fall. Things wouldn't be much better when she regained consciousness.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke laying down - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Woke Up

Against all odds, Koepcke regained consciousness on the forest floor. She was either the luckiest person in the world—or the unluckiest, because of what lay ahead.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking up - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Didn't Move

Juliane simply lay there on the forest floor, strapped to her seat and unmoving, for a full day, night, and into the next morning. "I was like an embryo". As she lay there, she assessed her situation.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking sick - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Knew The Sounds Of The Jungle

Juliane had spent countless hours in the jungles around Panguana. As she lay there, she quickly recognized the sounds of familiar frogs, birds, and insects.

That meant she wasn't far from home. Finally, a piece of good news.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Wasn't Hurt Too Bad

Juliane couldn't see out of one eye, had a broken collarbone, and some deep gashes—but for a 10,000-foot fall, she was in remarkably good shape. 

That was good, because she was going to need every ounce of strength she had left.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking sick - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

How Did She Survive?

The dense forest canopy managed to slow Juliane down just enough to prevent her from suffering a fatal injury—though the branches left plenty of painful wounds along the way. It's also possible that remaining strapped to her seat helped slow her fall through the branches.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking sick - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Finally Got Up

Finally, the following morning, Juliane managed to free herself from her seat and get up. She had survived a plane crash, but that was just a fraction of her trial.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking sick - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Wasn't Prepared

The cute mini-dress and sandals that the 17-year-old Juliane had put on for her flight were not ideal survival gear. She spent the days in extreme heat and pouring rain, then got extremely cold at night with only the flimsy dress for warmth.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

It Was The Wrong Time Of Year

The crash occurred during the rainy season, which is probably the worst time to be stranded in the jungle. None of the trees bore fruit and it rained relentlessly, making a fire impossible. Yet it still gets worse.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Lost A Sandal

Juliane lost one of her shoes and her glasses in the crash, which meant she was fumbling through the jungle half-blind.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Knew What Was Out There

Snakes were one of the many things that Juliane learned about from her parents. That means she was very aware that, without her glasses, a camouflaged snake would be almost invisible until it was too late.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Found A Creek

The best thing you can do when you're lost in the jungle is to find moving water and then follow it downstream, and that's exactly what Juliane did. But her path was full of nightmares.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke drinking water - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Heard A Chilling Sound

Four days into her trek downstream, Juliane heard a new sound, and this one sent a chill down her spine. It was the heavy wingbeats of a king vulture. Koepcke immediately realized what that meant.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

They Were Hungry

King vultures spend most of their time soaring over the rainforest, only landing when there's a lot of carrion around. Juliane knew they were here for the bodies from the crash—and they were closer than she realized.

King Vulture in Close UpJefferson Delogo, Pexels

She Saw Horrible Sights

Following the creek, Juliane turned a corner and saw three passengers from her flight, together on a bench, rammed headfirst into the ground, their legs sticking up into the air like fence posts.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Froze In Fear

The 17-year-old Koepcke had never seen a dead body before, and she stood there completely paralyzed with panic, alone in the middle of the jungle. Then she had a terrible thought.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Had To Check

Koepcke thought that one of the bodies might have been her mother. She poked it with a stick before seeing toenail polish and realizing it couldn't be her. 

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Found Some Candy

Juliane did find a bag of candy among the wreckage—the first food she'd found since the crash. She devoured it, but it wouldn't hold off starvation for long.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke holding a bag - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Could Hear Them Looking

As her torment continued, Juliane could hear rescue planes scanning overhead—but none of those planes were ever going to find her.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

They Didn't Stand A Chance

Juliane couldn't have known that the largest search in Peru's history was happening overhead. But the forest canopy was so dense, the rescue operation couldn't even locate the crash site, let alone a single survivor.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

The Sounds Faded

As the days wore on, the sounds of planes and helicopters overhead went silent. If Juliane held out any hope for rescue, it was gone. The only person who could save her was herself.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Let The Water Carry Her

The journey through the rainforest would be brutal for someone in perfect health, and Koepcke was still terribly injured. To make the going easier, she swam in the stream for much of the trek—but that came with its own dangers.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

There Were Piranhas 

The rivers of the Amazon contain piranhas, and Juliane was covered in wounds. She definitely didn't want any piranha teeth adding to her injuries, but thanks to her parents, she knew how to avoid them.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Swam Mid-Stream

Juliane's father had taught her that piranhas are only dangerous in the shallows, so she floated in the middle of the river as she worked her way downstream.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

Her Condition Got Worse And Worse

The days kept passing with no end in sight. By the ninth day, Juliane was horribly sunburned, near-starvation, and could barely walk. The best she could manage was to drift down the river—shallows and piranhas be darned.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking down - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Was Infested

The most nightmarish part of Juliane's trial was the wound on her right shoulder, which had grown infected with maggots—botfly larvae, to be more specific. But just as hope was fading, Juliane found her salvation.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Thought She Was Dreaming

Drifting around a bend in the stream, Koepcke saw her first sign of civilization in nine days: a boat. At first, she didn't think it was real.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Found Shelter

Koepcke says touching that boat and feeling it was real hit her like an adrenaline shot. She followed a nearby path and found even more good news: shelter.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking down - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

It Was A Simple Hut

The path led to a simple hut with a roof made of palm leaves. To Koepcke, it must have looked like the Four Seasons.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Found Some Gasoline

The shelter didn't have food or clothing, but it had a can of gasoline, and that wasn't nothing. It gave Juliane an idea—but it wasn't going to be pretty.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking down - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Knew What To Do

Though they sound like they're out of a horror movie, botfly larvae infestations aren't that rare in the jungle. Koepcke's dog had gotten an infection once, and she'd seen her father treat the site with kerosene.

Gasoline and kerosene aren't that different.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Poured Gas In The Wound

Juliane poured gasoline all over her shoulder, but things got worse before they got better. The maggots started burrowing deeper into her skin to try and escape the noxious liquid.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking down - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Pulled Them Out

In intense pain, and after all she'd already been through, Juliane started pulling maggots out of her wound. She believes she pulled 30 of them out before she was done. 

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Collapsed

The maggot purge was all she had energy for, and Juliane passed out under the shelter. When she regained consciousness, she heard voices for the first time in over a week.

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Made Contact

The voices she heard were the three Peruvian loggers who used the hut. She thought they might as well have been angels—but they thought she was a demon.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Scared Them

When the loggers laid eyes on the pale, shivering wraith in their hut, they thought they were looking at a water spirit—and water spirits could be dangerous.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking down - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Spoke To Them

Though the workers were afraid at first, Koepcke managed to croak out a greeting in Spanish and explain her situation. She was finally saved.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke talking with local loger - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Was Still In The Jungle

Juliane still had a ways to go before she reached safety. First, the loggers brought her by canoe to a local village. From there, she was finally airlifted to a hospital to treat her wounds.

Screenshot of local boats in the river - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Reunited With Her Father

After reaching the hospital, Juliane was finally reunited with her father, who had spent the last 10 days praying for any news of his wife and daughter. 

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Wasn't The Only Person To Survive The Crash

Authorities later determined that Juliane wasn't the only person to survive the crash. They estimate that around 14 others likely survived the fall—but as Juliane knew, that was only part of the battle.

Screenshot of plane parts in the jungle - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

They Didn't Make It

Whether due to their wounds from the crash or the danger of the jungle, none of the other survivors of the crash made it out of the Amazon alive.

Screenshot of plane parts in the jungle - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

Her Mother Was One Of Them

Juliane later learned that her mother was one of the other passengers who survived the initial crash. However, she was badly injured and unable to move. 

Screenshot of Susan Penhaligon as Juliane Koepcke with her mother - from Miracles Still Happen (1974)Brut Productions, Miracles Still Happen (1974)

She Couldn't Last

While Juliane was working her way downstream, her mother was trapped where she landed until she eventually succumbed to exposure after a few days waiting for rescue.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

What Happened?

There was an investigation into the crash almost as soon as it occurred. Peruvian authorities wanted to know if the tragedy had been preventable—and it didn't take long to come to an answer.

Screenshot of plane parts in the jungle - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

They Shouldn't Have Been Flying

The report found that the infamously shady airline intentionally sent the plane into hazardous weather conditions, knowing full-well the danger, due to pressure to keep up with the busy Christmas schedule.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

The Company Went Under

LANSA was already on its last legs at the time of the crash: The plane that crashed was their last functioning airliner, all others either being phased out or crashing. 

The Peruvian government revoked the company's license two weeks after the crash.

Lockheed Electra L 188..Turbo prop airlinerMichael Dolan, Flickr

She Went Back Into The Jungle

After what she'd been through, most people would never go back to the jungle again, but Juliane quickly returned to assist rescue crews in locating the crash site and recovering the bodies of the victims.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at side - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Followed In Her Mother's Footsteps

Juliane eventually became a zoologist just like her parents, specializing in bats. When her father passed in 2000, she took over Panguana, the research station they'd founded in the Peruvian jungle when she was a teenager.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

Werner Herzog Was Supposed To Be On The Flight

In 1971, Werner Herzog was in Peru scouting locations for his film, Aguirre, the Wrath of God. He was actually supposed to be on board LANSA Flight 508 before a last minute schedule change saved his skin.

Werner Herzog PortraitRaffi Asdourian, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

They Made A Movie Together

In 1998, Koepcke and Herzog teamed up for a walk down memory lane. The two of them take the same flight as 508, then visit the scene of the crash, and follow Juliane's path out of the jungle.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke on the plane with Werner Herzog - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

The Plane Was Still There

Even all those years later, Koepcke and Herzog uncovered pieces of Flight 508 all over the jungle, from metal wreckage to entire rows of seats.

Screenshot of  the plane in the jungle - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Found Closure

Retracing the steps of her experience with Herzog helped Juliane find closure—though, as she said in the film, one question will always haunt her: Why did she survive while everyone else perished?

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

She Told Her Story

Koepcke mostly avoided thinking about the incident for many years afterward, but confronting it was therapeutic. After making Wing of Hope, she started working on her memoirs, When I Fell From the Sky, which were published in 2011.

Screenshot of Juliane Koepcke looking at camera - from Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Julianes Sturz in den Dschungel (1999)

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


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