British tourist joins an exclusive club

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Gareth Griffiths' miraculous escape is not the first remarkable survival story from mid-air accidents.

The most sensational occurred in January 1972, when Vesna Vulovic, a Czechoslovak air hostess, plummeted 33,330 feet - more than 10 kilometres - without a parachute, after her plane exploded mid-flight.

In 1944, Flt Sgt Nicholas Alkemade survived a plunge of more than 18,000 feet after his Lancaster bomber was shot down over Germany.

More recently in April 1994, Des Malony, 28, from Chobham, Surrey, dropped 3,000 feet when his parachute failed to fully open after he fell from a former RAF jet at 250 mph while in a mid-air roll. He escaped with cuts and bruises when he landed on the grass verge at a superstore in Colchester, Essex. That same year a 36-year-old Sussex man reached speeds of 80 mph when he fell more than 4,500 feet and escaped with back injuries.

Florida was the venue for another remarkable cheating of death in 1995, when Penny Roberts from West Yorkshire hit a concrete runway at more than 50mph after plummeting 13,500 feet. The accident left her paralysed.

In 1996, a former Army serviceman, Pat Dolan from Bradford, suffered temporary paralysis and a broken leg when his parachute collapsed at 6,500 feet while sky-diving in Italy. Later that year, Paratrooper Alan Crown fell 1,000 feet. Doctors later explained his escape from his 120mph plunge to his bulging muscles which cushioned the blow as he hit the ground.

In September 1996, Devon-based Rob Lock cheated death when he fell 6,000 feet after his parachute failed.