508 lansa flight    Juliane Diller is a woman who looks like she goes to the same hairdresser’s as Angela Merkell. She is an expert in mammalogy -mammalogy isn’t the science which studies mothers, nor does it investigate breasts- and, above all, she researches bats. That should come as no surprise. Her father was a biologist and her mother an ornithologist who was famous world-wide: Maria Emilia Koepcke gave her name to four tropical birdsfrom the Amazon.

Joan Diller is one of those people who any statistics fan would like to sit next to in a flight. She is the only one of the 92 travellers on the Lansa flight from Lima to Iquitos on 24th December, 1971, including her mother, who survived. When the plane had crossed the Andes and was flying over the Amazon, there was a storm and a flash of lightening struck one of the fuel tanks, setting fire to one of the engines. The pilot descended to make an emergency landing, but the plane split in two and fell to earth. Before hitting the forest, Juliane’s seat left the plane and landed on a carpet of branches and leaves.
That, and having her seat belt fastened, saved her life.

After being unconscious for seventeen hours, she woke up and saw bits of the plane and the other travellers’ bodies all around her. Juliane, on the other hand, only had a broken collarbone and a blow to one eye. For the next nightmarish days she stayed there waiting for help but, as nobody came, and remembering what her parents had taught her about nature, she found a stream and starting following the current. She spent days travelling through the forest like that. She started to lose the little strength she had when mosquitoes began to lay their eggs in her open wounds. And then, two weeks after the accident, she came across a canoe. But you’d be wrong to think that she took it. Being a well brought up girl, she waited there until the owner appeared. And a couple of days later the owners, a couple of hunters, turned up. After giving her first aid, and a ninehour canoe journey, they reached the first inhabited land and, from there, they went to Pullcapa. And there she came across her father.

Later she found out that another 13 people had survived the crash. But they didn’t manage to survive the law of the jungle and died at the crash site. So if you go into the Zoologische Staatssammlung München (Munich Zoology Museum) and see the librarian there, who looks as if she goes to the same hairdresser as Angela Merkell, you may see her with different eyes after reading this article.