Sometimes, plans go wrong — and in the face of real disaster, quite unlike what would happen to you on a failed dinner date, rescue missions or military intervention are required to save the day.
Though history has unfortunately seen its fair share of failed rescues and impossible situations, we should never forget those glowing and victorious moments in which epic rescues have been carried out — often with poise well suited for Hollywood dramas.
Here are four notable examples that may just be better than the movies.
1. Yazidis rescued from Mount Sinjar
While it’s a tragedy that missions to rescue kidnapped journalists from the grips of ISIS have been unsuccessful thus far, the conflict in Syria and Iraq has not been completely without positive outcomes.
In August 2014, Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. airstrikes were able to rescue over 80,000 trapped Yazidis, who had fled from the Islamic State militants toward Mount Sinjar, where they risked death from exposure, hunger, and thirst.
2. Shackleton rescues crew from the Arctic
Taking a leap back in time, Irish-born British explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (yes, it is a great name) and his crew became metaphorically shackled to Elephant Island after his ship, ironically named the Endurance, was destroyed by ice on his Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
After much hardship, Shackleton was able to board a lifeboat from the desolate Elephant Island to South Georgia, where he trekked to a whaling station where he organized a rescue. In total, his crew was stranded for about two years — amazingly, all 28 survived and were successfully rescued.
3. IDF rescues 90 plane hostages
The Israeli Defense Force is a nimble military group through thick and thin, having made several successful hostage rescues. In 1972, Operation Isotope carried out the first successful takeover of a hijacked plane in history.
How? When the plane landed, IDF agents deflated the tires at night while the plane’s pilot, Captain Levy, distracted the hijackers with conversation about “everything under the sun, from navigation to sex” to keep them from detonating.
Israel staged a flight showing fake Palestinian prisoners boarding another plane, then took back the jet in a mere ten minutes disguised as technicians.
4. American officers rescued from New Guinea jungle
During WWII, a near-fatal plane crash in the jungles of New Guinea took an even more dramatic turn when survivors encountered a primitive tribe rumoured to be cannibals. The only way into the dense jungle, however, was by glider, leaving limited options for rescue.
With some luck, skill, and a drunk documentary maker, gliding proved a viable rescue option after all. More men were glided into the jungle, and the gliders (known as Fanless Faggots, in reference to their bundle-style assembly and lack of propellor) were attached to giant rubber bungee cords, which hoisted everyone to safety in rescue planes.
Know of any other quality epic rescues? Tweet us @curiousmatic.