Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them. - Laurence J. Peter

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bonus day

March 23, 1944: Nick Alkemade of the Royal Air Force...was a tail gunner in an AVRO Lancaster bomber. While returning from a bombing mission the aircraft was attacked by German Junkers JU-88. Alkemade was trapped in the turret after the bomber caught fire. His parachute was in the cabin area. Alkemade jumped from the aircraft, preferring a quick death to being burned.

He fell from 18,000 ft, all the while thinking of his ultimate death. He relaxed his body and fell in a slightly head down position.

His next recollection was looking up at the stars through some pine trees. He could not believe he was okay. He moved each arm and leg and soon realized he was not even hurt badly.

Completely grateful of being alive he smoked a cigarette, before even getting up. He thought about what had just happened to him.

He realized that the pine trees, with their pliable branches, slowly reduced his descent rate to one that was survivable. In addition, the soft snow cover reduced the landing forces even more.

He finally stood up. His leg was sprained and would not support his weight.

A short time later, the Germans captured Alkemade. The Gestapo did not believe his story of jumping without a parachute. They thought he was a spy. Finally, after inspecting the parachute harness and finding the burned parachute at the crash site they believe him.

Alkemade died on Jun. 22, 1987. - (from


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