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How Did An 11-Year-Old Survive a Plane Crash And Climb Down A Mountain

How Did An 11-Year-Old Survive a Plane Crash And Climb Down A Mountain


When you’re in fifth or sixth grade you
have a lot on your mind. There’s that upcoming math test, what to
say to the cute girl sitting next to you, or that after school sports game you’ll
be playing in. Life can get a bit challenging at times even
under normal circumstances. But for Norman Ollestad Jr., he had an additional
problem. He had to figure out how to navigate an 8,600-foot
tall mountain in freezing temperatures all by himself. Now, that is what you could call an unsettling
situation. So, you might be thinking a circumstance like
that is absolutely insane for an 11-year-old kid, and it is, without a doubt. But what’s different about Normal from your
regular middle schooler is that he had been preparing for this moment all his life. Unintentionally, of course. But, because of his childhood upbringing there
was pretty much no extreme challenge Norman wouldn’t at least have a fighting chance
to survive. This was all thanks to his father, although
at times Norman didn’t exactly feel gratitude. His father, the senior Norman Ollestad was
what you might call a daredevil. Some would say he lived life to its fullest
while others might see him as a bit crazy. An actor, athlete, musician, lawyer, and at
one point even an FBI agent, there was nothing it seemed he wouldn’t or couldn’t do if
he wanted to. That included some extreme pastimes. He lived in the prime of the California surfing
culture and he embraced it with all he had, as well as things like skiing the sheer slopes
of exceptionally tall mountains. And he brought his son into it as well, and
from the time he was barely walking. There is a picture of him with Norman Jr.
as a one-year-old toddler strapped to his back as he stands riding a wave in the middle
of the Pacific Ocean. That’s the kind of environment Norman Jr.
grew up in. The kind where one wrong move could be your
last one. As he grew from a tot to a young boy in Malibu,
California, his father threw him fully into the sports of both skiing and surfing. But not as a typical father would approach
them. Instead, Norman Jr. was skiing steep black-diamond
type slopes as well as riding raging waves along the Mexican coast. He was dubbed a “Boy Wonder” because of
all he had done under the strong insistence of his father. While it’s important to remember parenting
wasn’t quite the same in the 70’s or 80’s as it is today, this was still quite unusual
even back then. And, today, many of the things his father
did may have landed him in jail. Things have changed in this area. But, while Norman Jr. did admit he’d rather
have been out riding his bicycle or snacking on cake from time to time, he also called
his many adventures really beautiful. And they made unforgettable memories he would
cherish for the rest of his life. More than that, the skills he learned gave
him a chance at survival when he was later stuck in the middle of nowhere 50 miles from
Los Angeles. On the top of the San Gabriel Mountains thousands
of feet above ground in a blizzard in February. But what was he doing on the mountain to begin
with you might be wondering. It all started at around 8 am on February
19th of 1979. Norman Ollestad Jr., his father and his father’s
girlfriend were flown via a single-engine Cessna 172 through mountainous territory on
route to the mountain town of Big Bear to get a trophy he had won for a skiing competition. Along the way the weather got unfriendly and
suddenly everything turned grey. Clouds appeared all around the windows of
the plane, pressing in on them. They could see nothing except an occasional
object pop out here and there and then again vanishing. Too late, they realized what these were: the
limbs of trees. Soon the plane struck one and crashed along
the mountainside, instantly killing the pilot and Norman Jr.’s father and seriously wounding
his father’s girlfriend. Norman Jr. remembers three thuds as he made
contact with the solid mountain; the third knocked him out. He doesn’t know exactly how long he was
passed out, but he awoke in excruciatingly cold temperatures. To make matters worse, his hand was broken. He found his dad and tried to get him to wake
up, but he was unresponsive. Afraid of freezing to death he and Sandra
Cressman, his father’s 30-year-old girlfriend, sat together under the wing of the plane in
a desperate attempt to get warm. They waited and waited for hours, until after
seven had passed they became worried that they could die before they were found. So, then they did the only thing left to do:
they attempted to navigate down the mountain. The snow and ice were so deep that they reached
Norman’s waist. So, he grabbed a stick and slid down on his
bottom, thrusting the stick in the snow when he began to go move too fast for comfort. With a long distance between him and safety,
it was painfully slow going. Unfortunately, Sandra was not as adept at
icy travel. She also had a deep cut on her forehead and
a dislocated arm which definitely didn’t help her situation. Despite Norman’s attempts to help her down
the mountain she ended up falling in a particularly icy area. She never got back up again. As Norman described her, though she could
open her eyes she seemed to be so badly hurt she could no longer talk. Her body was discovered later by a rescue
team prone on the mountainside 100 yards from the scene of the crash. Norman kept going. As he moved on, he heard a helicopter above
him. He stood up and waved at it and thought they
had seen him, but he was wrong. They flew on and left him alone, still stuck
on the mountain. However, he pushed on. As his father had taught him throughout his
youth, when the going gets tough you just keep on going. So that’s what he did. Giving up was never an option. He said he felt instinct take over and became
an animal, similar to a wolf. An animal fully at home in the treacherous
wilderness. Norman traveled two miles from the plane to
safety on the ground by alternatingly stopping and sliding. He used the skills he had perfected through
his extensive surfing and skiing experience to know the right angle to turn and how best
to glide. He had complete control of his body and could
pull off the moves necessary to get through particularly dangerous areas. He almost felt at home; as he put it, a 45-degree
pitch in a blizzard with slippery ice was nothing unlike what he had done for the last
8 years of his life. He was much more than prepared. Even when it came to scaling a vertical gulch
of stone using only his fingers. Still, it took him 9 hours to make it down. He then walked along a creek to a ranch house. A rescue party arrived on the mountain only
after the clouds shrouding it had lifted. There they saw the plane wreck and the three
lifeless bodies resting on it. Norman Jr. was the only one who survived,
and though he had a broken hand and a swollen face due to many cuts he sustained during
the journey, he claimed to only be a little sore. In a wheelchair the day after the ordeal he
explained what had happened while his mother sat next to him. His parents were divorced by that time and
Norman had questionable thoughts about the boyfriend she dated afterward, but he was
beyond happy to be back with his remaining family. Later, Norman wrote a book about his experiences. Many would say it was mostly a book about
his father and their at times strained and at other times magical relationship. As Norman put it, both were inextricably linked. He said that relationship was with him on
that mountain despite the fact that his father was already dead. The book, titled “Crazy for the Storm: A
Memoir of Survival” was a great success and lauded by critics. The picture on the book’s jacket is him
as a small child strapped onto his father back as he rides a wave in the middle of the
ocean. Norman Jr. wrote the epilogue to his own son,
who he has raised responsibly yet in a way that he still learns crucial lessons in life. And the response from readers has been overwhelming. Norman has received numerous letters and emails
from his readers talking about their own experiences with their mothers and fathers. Many seem to feel something deep and personal
through Norman’s story that resonates with their own lives. In the wake of a tragic disaster, many have
come together to revisit their childhood. Was there ever a time in your life when you
felt a parent pushed you too hard or expected too much of you? Did you later appreciate what it taught you,
or not? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video
Do These Things To Survive If You Get Stranded On an Island! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!


Reader Comments

  1. This is very similar to the plot of iron fist correct me if I’m wrong?

    Young boy gets on a plane with just his parent and pilot crashes in the mountains and finds everyone is dead.

  2. Newborn 0-2 months old
    Infant 2 months to 1 years old
    Toddler 1-4 years old
    9 years old pre junior junior teen
    10 years old pre junior teen
    11 years old junior teen
    12 years old pre teen
    13-17 years old teenager
    18- 21 years old young adult

  3. Lol that’s the same exact kind of story when I complain about mowing the lawn🤣🤣
    Well when I was your age I….

  4. Huh I just looked it up and he was in the 1950's cheaper by the dozen, well that's what I saw on Google and thought it was pretty cool 🙂

  5. 11 year old survives plane crash and climbs down and 600 foot tall mountain
    FEATHER FALLING IV
    UNBREAKING IIV

  6. youtube is red
    Twitter is blue
    Being single is cool
    That's what my mom says
    If the thmu,s up icon is blue, you’ll become a millionaire in 10 years

    (Don't trust edited comments)

  7. Without the life lessons from his father, he would be dead. Sad that such men today would be put in jail. No wonder there are so many weak males today running around drinking soy lattes.

  8. Last and first time I went skiing I twist and arm. I made myself fall cause I don't know how to stop 😭

  9. This poor kid. I have an 8 year old daughter and it breaks my heart to think of her or any child having to traverse a mountain after already surviving a horrific crash. I’d be grateful she survived of course, but that’s a lot of trauma for a child to deal with.

  10. So he wouldn't have needed any of this survival knowledge if his dad didn't drag him into a snowstorm to get a trophy? The father might've taught him the skills to survive but his father put him in the situation

  11. Hello guys this is what happening in the comment section,

    90% eLevEn iS NoT a tEeN
    10% hOw dId hE sUrvive tHe imPossiBlE

  12. life throws you into the shadow realm

    Norman: smirks you activated my trap card that gives me life points over 9000.

    Life: surprised Pikachu face

  13. I love how in the end of his videos he always asks us a question and none of the comments ever answer it🤦🏽‍♂️

  14. Bruh he sounds like a horrible dad. Sure what his dad taught him saved him but he wouldn’t be in that situation if it weren’t for his dad

  15. It was probably because he watched naruto

    Kid: I WONT DIE, THATS MY NINDO MY NINJA WAY, AND I WILL BECOME HOKAGE AND BE FINALLY RECOGNIZED!

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