18,000 Feet Down and No Parachute
This is one of those days where it is worth remembering a truly amazing feat/miracle in human history.On this day in 1944, Nickolas Alkemade, an RAF Sergeant, was serving as a tail gunner on an RAF Lancaster bomber. The plane was at 18,000 feet when the Nazis hit it, setting it on fire. Alkemade decided he’d rather die instantly by impact rather than burn up as the plane rapidly descended. The rest of the crew stayed on board and died in the fiery wreckage.Nickolas Alkemade jumped out at 18,000 feet. He had no parachute. All the parachutes had burned up in the plane already.For 18,000 feet Nickolas Alkemade plummeted over Hanover. His body fell into a stand of pines with snow piled extraordinarily high. But the snow had not gotten compacted.He lived, suffering only a sprained leg. The Nazis captured him and, once they investigated and realized he was telling the truth, gave him a certificate authenticating the miraculous fall.Nickolas Stephen Alkemade served out the rest of World War II in a German POW camp. He then went to work in the chemical industry and died on June 2, 1987.Consider this an open thread.By the way, a year earlier, American Alan Magee fell 22,000 feet, or roughly four miles, from a B-17 and survived after falling through a church ceiling that mitigated the blow to his body.