plane flying through a storm

Photo Credit: David Joyner/istock

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November 9, 2009

On October 30, 1959, Piedmont Airlines flight 349 crashed into Bucks Elbow Mountain near Crozet, Virginia, leaving a sole survivor with a displaced hip waiting for two days to be rescued. Fifty years later, Phil Bradley's story still continues to inspire and provide hope.

At a recent memorial service, the 83-year-old recalled being ejected on impact while still attached to his seat and feeling his mouth fill with dirt and leaves, according to However, in the end he only suffered a leg injury.

Today, Bradley feels a special bond with the strangers with whom he traveled on that fateful day and who were not so lucky.

"I've been feeling [a] spiritual attachment to those people," he told the news provider, adding that he was planning to construct a memorial at the actual crash site to honor the memory of the people who did not live to tell their stories.

This inspiring account shows that it is possible to survive an airplane crash. In fact, statistics suggest 19 out of 20 people make it out of such crashes alive.

Consequently, safety experts have recommended counting the number of rows between one's seat and the nearest exit when boarding the plane. In the wake of an accident, it is important to leave the scene because it can become toxic or explosive. Time and conditions permitting, one should take basic medicines and a blanket or other cover when leaving to protect oneself from the elements.

Among the many resources that can help crash survivors learn to thrive again is the Trauma Resource Institute, which also accepts donations.
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