18 Plane Crash Survivors Share Their Harrowing Stories

Survivors never enter situations aware they are about to cheat death; instead, they emerge with an experience few of us can, or ever even will, comprehend. Given the fact that plane crashes are literally a one-in-a-million possibility, these survivors bore witness to a rare phenomenon that nevertheless still occupies many peoples' waking thoughts

Now, instead of wondering what it feels like to endure a plane crash, thanks to Reddit, you can read first-hand accounts of people who faced that reality. 

  • Artimus Pyle Formerly of Lynyrd Skynyrd Tells His Plane Crash Story

    Artimus Pyle was the original drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd who also happened to be aboard the plane that crashed killing his band mates. In a 2007 interview with Howard Stern, Pyle recalled being fully conscious during the crash. He also remembered Ronnie Van Zandt shaking his hand and taking charge in advising everyone on the plane of what to do. Pyle says Van Zandt died from being struck in the head by a piece of their musical equipment, though other sources have stated he was hit in the head by the plane’s Betamax flying through the cabin.

    Ironically, Pyle was then shot while trespassing on to a farm looking for help after the crash. While he survived both the plane crash and being shot, being familiar with small planes himself he felt that the whole accident could have been avoided if the pilots were just a little more diligent that day. 

    Artimus Pyle had narrowly escaped death twice in the same fateful day, but his life would never be the same after.

  • Dad Was Left Hanging Upside Down

    My dad told me about the only crash he had during the 15 years he flew.

    Right after he finished his flight training, he and a friend flew to a job interview in his friend's two-seat tail dragger. On the way back home they decided to land at a friend's farm. When they landed, the field was quite wet, and when they got back to the plane to depart, they found the tail wheel sunk into the mud. They thought about walking it to the road and taking off from there, but the pilot thought they would be okay if the farmer held the tail up long enough for them to start rolling. Once they get moving it was apparent they didn't have enough speed to takeoff before the fence line. They slowed down, turned to the right, and then hit the throttle again.

    They got enough speed they got in the air, but they didn't realize they were in ground effect. They crossed over an eight-foot drainage ditch, which killed the lift. The wheels hit the muddy field on the other side, sunk in, and the plane flipped over it's nose onto it's back. It flipped slowly enough that when the pilot's seat belt broke, he wasn't injured. My dad was hanging upside down from his belt. Apparently his belt didn't break but stretched, and his head hit and broke the Plexiglas roof. They were no worse for wear, and were laughing about the crash. This happened in 1959, when he was 23. My dad still stays in touch with that guy.

  • Heard A Loud Pop And Saw Smoke

    I was taking lessons out of Yakima, WA to get my private pilot's license, and it was only my fifth hour up. We were flying into some heavy, gusty winds in a 1940s Luscomb, which was apparently struggling.

    I remember pulling out of a bank and hearing a loud pop, and then seeing smoke billowing as the plane lost power. The instructor simply said, "Oh. My airplane." I had no idea what to do, or what I could do. I just took the two minutes or so (as we were gliding down) to text my mom and girlfriend, and wait. It was so surreal accepting that I might not walk away, and that gave me some closure and let me focus on the present.

    We made it over a few small hills and an orchard before crash landing in an alfalfa field, at which point we quickly got out and asked if each other was alright. Not a whole lot of words exchanged throughout, but the feelings-train plowed me with a little bit of everything it had.

  • The Tail-End Of It

    It wasn't quite a plane crash, but I suspect it counts as close enough. I was taking off on a Southwest flight from San Diego. There was a big thud as we took off, and 15 seconds later the pilot announces we had a tail strike and would be emergency landing at LAX. All the passengers assumed that meant we hit a bird. In reality, we took off at too steep an angle and banged the tail on the ground.

    The landing was rough as hell - someone hit his head on the roof. I understand tail strikes don't usually cause significant damage but this one did. We disembarked to see seven feet of stuff hanging out of the fuselage that didn't belong there, promptly freaking everyone out.