By Athena Voulgaropoulos
A skydiver falls from almost three miles up. A helicopter splits in half above the busy streets of New York City. A pedestrian is crushed by a rolling SUV. When you see the footage, it is hard to believe anyone survived these catastrophes. But survive they did, and though some might call it miraculous, behind each disastrous incident is an unexpected scientific explanation.
Premiering this Sunday, July 10, with back-to-back half-hour episodes, National Geographic Channel’s latest series The Indestructibles explores 10 real-life disasters, explaining how someone could survive the seemingly unsurvivable. Using actual footage, eyewitness accounts and the victims’ stories, teams of experts piece together the amazing mix of luck, coincidence and hard science behind each incident.
“You knew in your heart that they didn’t make it out,” remembers one witness who watched in horror as a news team’s helicopter lost control in midair and crashed into a Brooklyn building. Minutes of deafening silence passed without a sign of life from the two passengers buried under the debris, until finally reporter Andrew Torres emerged, disoriented but otherwise unharmed. Pilot Russ Mowry also escaped with only minor injuries.
Six years later, cameras follow as the two men confront their fears and relive that nightmarish day, in order to answer lingering questions. How did they survive? Was it physical, or mechanical, or perhaps even divine? And they weren’t the only curious ones. Investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board, engineers at NASA and aerospace researchers at the Dutch organization TNO all took an interest in testing the chopper’s crash. Compiling data from detailed analysis and hands-on experiments with the world’s most advanced flight simulator, the experts work with the survivors to uncover surprising answers.
Like Mowry and Torres, the other “Indestructibles” featured in NGC’s mind-boggling new series are not merely recounting their traumatic experiences — they are on a journey seeking understanding and closure, constructing the scientific puzzle that explains how and why they were able to defy the odds and live to tell their tale.
© Story House Productions. Credit: Pepe Pippig