Take a moment and look back at your life when you were just 17. What was the biggest problem in your life? Maybe you wondered whether your crush liked you back, or if you would do well on your algebra test. Few people these days have to deal with any truly stressful situations as a teenager, which makes Juliane Koepcke's story so incredible.
Koepcke's family is German, but they had settled in Peru, where both her parents worked as zoologists. Juliane and her mother were traveling from Lima, where she was in school, to Pucallpa to meet her father. It was a stormy night, and their airline, Lansa, had a bad safety reputation, but they took a chance because they were desperate to have the family together on Christmas Day.
Mid-flight, a bolt of lightning tore the plane's right wing off, sucking passengers out of the cabin. "We were headed straight down," Koepcke remembered years later for CNN. "Christmas presents were flying around the cabin and I could hear people screaming.
"Suddenly there was this amazing silence. The plane was gone. I must have been unconscious and then came to in midair. I was flying, spinning through the air and I could see the forest spinning beneath me." The plane had been 10,000 feet above the Amazon jungle when it tore apart, and Koepcke dropped the entire distance strapped into her row of seats.
Experts say the drag caused by the seats, along with their position and the thick, leafy trees she fell on are what saved Koepcke's life. Miraculously, she survived the crash with only a broken collarbone, a cut on her arm and a swollen eye.
But it was a case of falling out of the frying pan and into the fire, because now Koepcke was alone in the jungle.
Click the next page to learn how she survived for 10 days!