‘I Was Trapped For 49 Days After Plane Crash’ – True Survival Story


In one of the most remote and unforgiving
wildernesses in the world, two strangers sit huddled in a makeshift tent they have built. The man and the young woman are freezing and
on the verge of death. A snowstorm batters their makeshift tent;
the wind blasts seem to the pair like nature itself has a vendetta against them. They are miles away from any town and what
they don’t know is that as they sit and wait, the media is saying there is little
hope the missing pair will be found alive. The storm abates and suddenly the woman sees
a plane in the sky, but her hope is crushed as it fades into the distance. “In the name of God,” she says, “Please
come back.” She is well aware she doesn’t have long
to live. The story starts at the beginning of the 1960s,
a decade that would become renowned for its decadence and colorful youth culture. Just prior to that decade there was the Beat
movement, a counterculture that enshrined something that would become known as the “the
road trip”, with Jack Kerouac’s book “On the Road” inspiring many young Americans
to take off and explore their own country from end-to-end. And that’s just what a young Jewish girl
from New York named Helen Klaben wanted to do; to follow in the footsteps of people who’d
turned away from convention and instead went looking for adventure. When Klaben was just 20 years old she saw
an ad in a newspaper asking if anyone wanted to share the gas costs and take a car all
the way to Fairbanks, Alaska. She replied and the two set off on a long
journey. After a few months in Alaska she knew where
she wanted to explore next, and that was the mystical East. She wasn’t sure where she’d go exactly,
maybe India, maybe Hong Kong, but before that she had to get to a destination to take a
flight across the world. That destination was San Francisco, a city
on the verge of a cultural revolution. Early in 1963, Klaben met a 41-year old Mexican-American
amateur pilot by the name of Ralph Flores. He was an aircraft mechanic that hailed from
California and he too wanted to get back home and leave Alaska. The pair agreed to share the expenses of the
journey and off they went to their first destination which was the capital of the Yukon Territory,
Whitehorse, the most populated place in that wild part of the world. They had another stop after that, and that
was at Fort St. John in British Columbia. It was winter and bitterly cold. Snowstorms raged and the plane was grounded
for three days. A small single-engine airplane couldn’t
hope to fly over such an unforgiving territory in such bad conditions. Nonetheless, with the weather warnings still
present, the two took off again into the sky. Their next landing would be anything but smooth. The pair flew for hours in strong winds, the
plane being tossed around like a dandelion seed in a strong breeze. Flores could hardly see anything with the
snow blasting against the plane. He and Klaben knew they somehow had to get
out of that storm, so Flores attempted to get above the clouds and out of danger. His plan was to come back down and find the
Alaska Highway, which would lead him to the airport. That was the thing, he needed the road to
get his bearings because being an amateur he didn’t quite understand the instruments
in the aircraft. On top of that, he hadn’t even packed emergency
supplies on board in case of a crash. There were no real tools, not much in terms
of food supplies, nothing to keep someone warm and not even a gun in case they came
up against a rather hungry animal. The Yukon is full of bears, small ones, large
ones and utterly fearsome ones. They at least had a knife. It was a time of desperation and Klaben started
to lose her cool. She knew that the pilot was totally lost but
he refused to admit that. Then she suddenly saw a mountainside and some
trees and she knew they were going to crash. She said to herself, “O.K., Helen, here
it comes.” And it came with a bang. She closed her eyes and just hoped for the
best, and when she opened them she was alive. The plane had landed at the side of a mountain
close to the Yukon-British Columbia border. She had a broken arm and he had some broken
ribs and a fractured jaw. There was nothing but mountains and trees
around and snow covered everything. Just walking around was an effort because
the temperature at times would go down to – 45 C (-49 F). They huddled in the wreckage of the plane
to escape the blistering cold. Frostbite was a certainty in those conditions
if they stayed out in the open too long. As days went by search parties flew over the
skies and looked for the pair, but it was incredibly difficult to see anything in between
the trees when everything is covered with snow. They literally had nothing to eat after they
finished off some cans of sardines, tuna, fruit and some crackers. There were no supplies at all after that and
they were only 10 days in. The one important thing they could do to survive
was to melt snow for water. They had a box of matches and so could make
a fire. With both of them in pain from their injuries
and without the equipment to hunt, they just sat and waited and starved. Day by day the pounds came off as their bodies
burned their own fat reserves. Flores did try and make something that looked
like a slingshot, but it was useless, and he soon gave up on hunting rabbits. They did have another thing, though, and in
a way you might call that an emergency supply for the religious mind. It was a bible, something Flores took everywhere
with him since he’d converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a devout Mormon. He told Klaben that this crash they had experienced
had some significance in regards to the bigger picture of things. He told her to read the bible and they would
be saved. She had to covert. Each day they heard planes rumbling overhead
and each day Klaben continued reading the bible, hoping her devout accomplice was right
about his God. He actually told her that if she read the
whole thing and then accepted the divinity of Jesus Christ they would be saved. She wasn’t exactly comforted by this and
didn’t believe him, but hey, there wasn’t that much reading material in the middle of
nowhere. Weeks now passed and they made a discovery. They found toothpaste and that suddenly started
looking tasty. Each day they squeezed the tube and gratefully
swallowed the minty cream. They knew it wasn’t really sustenance, but
it was at least something to put in their mouths. They also had chewing gum and they chewed
that for weeks on end. Things got desperate after a few weeks and
while they could at least keep themselves a little bit warm with insulation they’d
made out of clothes and cushions, Klaben got serious frostbite and then gangrene in her
foot. She could now hardly move at all. She was all but ready to give up the ghost
and had lost about a third of her body weight. Flores just told her to keep reading that
bible and never give up hope of a rescue. Still, as time went by, even he seemed to
have given up on one of those planes in the sky seeing them. Flores then told Klaben that since he could
walk he would go and try and find civilization. He walked off in the woods, leaving her behind
to her own thoughts. She decided to write about what had happened,
but soon gave up on that when it started to sound like an epitaph. She wasn’t ready to sign off just yet. Eight days later and Flores came back. He told his dying companion that he had at
least found what looked like a clearing and so humans must have been there. There was also much more chance of someone
seeing them from the sky, once they were away from all the trees. They had to walk there and make a shack of
some sort. It took hours to get there. Klaben’s foot was badly infected now and
the pain of walking was unbearable. As they got closer to the clearing they heard
a noise, like a humming in the distance. Flores went in search of that noise and then
returned sometime later. He told Klaben he’d found a frozen pond
and that he’d written SOS in it and also etched the shape of an arrow that pointed
to where they were. He’d done this with snow shoes he’d made
out of tree bark. He told Klaben he’d go out again with a
mirror and try and catch the sight of a pilot. She didn’t want to be alone again, but he
assured her it was the only option now. Was there now hope? It was day 47 of their ordeal, a day after
Klaben had finished reading the bible. And now we introduce to you a man of the wild,
one Charles “Chuck” Hamilton. In March that year as those two were freezing
and starving to death he was out in his plane trying to spot animals to hunt. He had a good eye for that kind of thing. He spotted no moose that day, but he did see
“SOS” written into what looked like a frozen pond. He didn’t immediately think about the missing
plane. That had been weeks ago and it wasn’t something
that was still on his mind. In fact, he and his passenger thought the
remark must have been left by a trapper, seeing as trappers did sometimes find themselves
in difficulty in the wild. At the same time, Klaben had seen the plane
in the sky. She made a fire and frantically threw green
pine on it. Black smoked gushed into the sky. Surely someone would see that! She was now in tears, full of a desperate
joy, ignoring the pain in her foot. Flores was out in the woods trying to use
that mirror to flash sunlight back at the plane. Hamilton actually had to turn away from the
black smoke since it was thick and heavy, but it was then he saw a man standing with
a mirror in his hands. Hamilton found a place to set down the plane
near a cabin on an airport lake. He was about six miles (10km) away from the
pair. Trappers were working at this cabin and that
is the noise the pair had heard. The trappers had been cutting firewood with
a chainsaw. All these men got together with their dogs
and set off to find the man with the mirror. Because of the smoke, Klaben hadn’t yet
been seen. Hamilton then left the trappers and said he’d
investigate from the sky again, but now that fire had died down. When he looked at where the fire had been
he could just make out a tent. He then made a radio call and said, “I think
I found the lost people.” Night was now falling and so Hamilton returned
home, hoping the trappers had found those people. The media called him all night long, but he
couldn’t sleep anyway, thinking about those poor souls alone out there. At this point no one knew if there was just
one survivor or two since only the man with the mirror had been seen. Hamilton only guessed the woman was the source
of the fire. The trappers actually did find Flores that
night, but Klaben waited the whole night alone at the shelter. It was now pitch black and the rescue would
have to wait until morning. Hamilton actually turned to his wife and said,
“What if she’s dead when I get there?” He flew off before dawn and landed a couple
of miles from where the tent was. From there he walked in and about one hour
later Klaben saw a hulk of a man striding towards her, a man she said was “pixie faced”. When he met her she embraced him and cried
and kissed his grizzled cheek. The brave woman said she could walk out, even
with a terribly infected, frostbitten foot. Hamilton responded to that, saying, “If
I can carry a moose out of the woods, I can carry you.” It took some time, though, walking on snow
shoes with a woman on his back – a frail woman at least, who now only weighed 100 pounds
(45 KG). When Klaben was finally taken to hospital
the doctors said she wouldn’t have lasted one more night. Had they stayed another night that SOS in
the lake would have been covered. They were discovered in the nick of time. When Klaben was well enough she met with a
host of reporters, to whom she exclaimed, “Hey, I’m alive!” She was all good, except a few missing toes. Klaben soon went back to Brooklyn and Flores
went home to his family in California. She never did convert and become a Mormon,
but she later said the ordeal did make her more spiritual. The experience, she said, helped her to find
herself. In an interview she said, “Most people expect
they would not be able to cope with a crisis and it was a great experience to find out
that I could.” Klaben wrote a book about what happened and
never lost her sense of adventure, travelling through many regions of Asia and Europe and
the Americas. She died in 2018 aged 76. Flores was also 76 when he passed away in
1997, so we guess these two had one last experience they could share. The now-old Chuck Hamilton left the wilds
and moved to Victoria, where he lives today with his family. He keeps a token of the event in his basement;
a bit of the wreckage with the serial number: N5886. We have more great tales of survival and many
other topics too so go watch another right now! Either this video over here or check out this
one over here!

100 thoughts on “‘I Was Trapped For 49 Days After Plane Crash’ – True Survival Story

  1. i'm super confused, how did they live without food for that long? also how the fck did they not freeze to death at that temperature without serious winter gear? this is an anomaly on all fronts. most people would've died long before that.

  2. I never thought I would see my own home town mentioned on the infographics show since it is very small. Whitehorse, YT

    Whitehorse is one word though, still so cool! Big fan from the Yukon, Canada

  3. Ahhh.. Back when the internet wasn't flooded with mindless chattel, and eclectic and eccentric people could meet to make awesome things happen.. Now it's a barrage of bots, stay-home-sally's, too-scared-tims, bogged-down-bob's, etc. I kind of miss when the internet was something that only adventurous and curious individuals yearning for a new frontier logged in to…

    I have in fact done many a search for people looking to go on adventures, and road trips, and am met with uncertainty.. "ARE YOU A SERIAL KILLER!?" Perhaps something else along those lines, or.. "I wish I could… But my job.."

    BOOOOOOO!!!

  4. Did anyone else read the title and think “wow the challenges are definitely getting worse” for a few seconds 😂

  5. Hey i’ve got a question you could maybe answer in your next video can you get high off cigarettes
    I know I could easily search up the answer but I wanna see it on here

  6. How can someone survive a war zone, fire ants attacking, AND a -478 degrees weather for OVER A MONTH theese are fake! Anyone can make up a story and you can NEVER trust youtube. This channel is bad it is MORBID and DEPRESSING and is full of LIES! BYE YOU ARE NOT GETTING ANY MORE REVENUE OFF ME NO MORE

  7. I have survived somthing that almost killed me, needed medical attention to survive it and it was… THE CHOCOLATE MILK and I was on a boat with little resources.

  8. That sermon played when talking about the Bible was powerful. Allow me to quote, “blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah blah”

    I live by these words.

  9. Could you do a video on the flight attendant who survived when the plane exploded and she survived the 35,000 foot drop?

  10. The fact that they survived in the middle of nowhere with injuries and the bitter cold is nothing less than amazing!

  11. lol if he was a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints he probably gave her a Book of Mormon not a bible

  12. How come you guys don't do celcius and farenheit. I thought you guys were American? I can convert to farenheit but that takes me a lil minute

  13. I always find stories from the Canadian Territories/Northern Alaska are very interesting and enjoyable. Just cause you know their stuck in the cold tropical.

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