The flight attendant who escaped unhurt in two plane crashes
Eglin Nunez suffered a plane crash in February and one in July 2008, both in Beni. In 2010 she experienced a mishap during a landing in Prague, Czech Republic. [in the photo:Eglin Nunez exhibits an award received after the accidents].
“I never imagined that flying would have an accident and in months another, and in both I was unscathed,” says flight attendant Eglin Nunez, who suffered a plane crash in February and another one in July 2008, both in Beni, Bolivia. During those air incidents, her behavior prevented the loss of lives and an even more tragic outcome. Also, in 2010, lived a mishap during a landing in the Czech Republic.
Eglin said that one day before the first plane crash was the feast of the Virgen de la Candelaria, held with a Mass in the Bolivian Air Force (FAB). They completed the activity, informed her that would be part of the crew of Lloyd Aereo Boliviano (LAB). “I went crazy with excitement because she was going to be a Lloyd stewardess, I fulfilled a dream I had as a child,” she stresses smiling.
The desired day arrived, was on 1 February 2008. In that year, the Military Air Transport (TAM) signed charter with LAB. The plane was a Boeing 727-200 with 157 passengers, most of the crew was LAB’s, less Eglin, whose function was to provide good service to passengers, and Sergeant Maria Eugenia Quispe, with the task of controlling the load, both belonging to TAM. The flight departed at 7:00 from La Paz to Cobija.
The flight attendant recalls that upon arrival at the airport in Cobija, there was no visibility, making it difficult for the pilot to land the plane normally, he tried twice without success. At that time the captain decided to divert the flight to the airport of Trinidad, the closest route. “Qusipe and I were called to the pilothouse, asked if we were prepared for an emergency and I said yes, then we were sent to review seatbelts. Five minutes later, the plane crashed five kilometers from the runway” recalls.
“Before falling, the head of the cockpit yelled impact position, hugging legs, then I felt how we hit hard, a branch came close and catering fell over me. Then I shouted if there were living people, and rather they were all alive (…). In those few seconds I saw my whole life. It was scary for everyone, but not for me, I studied for this, including such emergencies,” she says excitedly.
Eglin ensures that when evacuating the aircraft a group of soldiers did not want to jump into a swamp because they argued it had crocodiles and alligators. “After insisting, they jumped” notes with a smile. A few minutes later people came to assist them and, after an hour, arrived at the place some FAB aircraft. “By running to the plane that would be returning us to La Paz I fell, then hurt me,” she recalls, laughing.
During the accident people panicked, but at all times [we] gave them confidence and tranquility; guide them on how well we had to act at that time. These actions prevented a tragic toll, remembers that moment that changed her life. “There was also much support from the FAB, they gave us all necessary assistance in that time,” she says.
As a result of the accident two crew and one passenger were recorded with minor knocks, also three dogs were killed, that were traveling in the cargo area.
The second accident
“Days before the second accident, a helicopter had fallen and an airplane. In aviation there is the belief that three accidents always happen. When one just happens, they say the witch is on the loose until the three happen. At that time, one was missing, and it was mine,” Eglin said admiringly.
The second accident happened on July 23, 2008. It was a TAM Fokker F27 with 31 passengers on board; days before the aircraft had changed an engine. The trip was from Trinidad to Guayaramerín. “They told us that there was no fuel in Trinidad, then we charged full tank in Guayará” she recalls.
“In the first minutes of the flight, I went to the cabin and during that time I felt a strong explosion, passengers started screaming. Then I ran to see what had happened and saw two holes in the resulting plane because the right propeller was out, affecting a passenger, cutting off part of her leg and got four fingers. Immediately I made a tourniquet with my scarf,” recalls the time of the accident.
During that time, she asked passengers to start looking out the windows for a path for landing, while a “strong” odor of fuel was followed by cries of desperate passengers. Minutes later the pilot remembered he had a farm by the place and that was where the plane landed, meanwhile, passengers prayed during the approach to land.
“We touched ground and I said: we’re safe! But seconds later, a tree crashed into the plane’s wing, sending us out of the road, only causing shock among the passengers and we began evacuating the plane. As I was doing the review, I found a baby on the floor and it turned out the baby was from a lady with a ‘pollera’ [skirt worn by some indigenous people] who was already outside and I said to her. You saved your parcel and you’ve left your baby, and she said it is easy to make wawas [babies], I had to save this ($100,000),” she says.
According to what the stewardess recalls, rescue lasted several hours, waiting passengers prepared food with parcels that were on the plane and took care of the wounded woman. Hours later came the FAB aircraft, the badly injured person was evacuated to Santa Cruz and the others to La Paz.
The accident in Czech Republic
In 2010, a Spanish airline invited her to join its team of flight attendants. Thus, during a landing in Prague, Czech Republic, she suffered a mishap. The front end of the plane, at the time of landing, went back in, causing the aircraft to hit hard against the track.
“That day I panicked and said: Was my last flight! Now I get very nervous when I get on a plane, my pilot friends try to make me lose my fear, but still costs me Now I am studying law,” concludes recalling the flight attendant.
After the accidents, she was honored twice by national authorities and received dozens of letters with messages of thanks from passengers who flew with her during the incidents. Soon she was given the position as president of the Association of Wives of the Bolivian Air Force.
Date of birth: Born on March 11, 1984, in the city of Sucre, Bolivia.
Education: Studied for a year at the School of Aviation in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She also spent a course in cosmetology. Currently she is studying law at the Universidad San Francisco de Assis in the city of La Paz.
Experience: Was TAM flight attendant for two years. She was on the team of flight attendants for a Spanish airline. She was also vice president of the Association of Wives of the Bolivian Air Force.
Contests: In 2002 she was elected Miss Chuquisaca. She also participated in other beauty pageants in Bolivia.
I wish her well, she was a real pro during those accidents; during events where most people freezes!