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Surviving the Worst Skydiving Accident in History

Jun 25, 2019 | 831 videos
Video by Yali Sharon

The professional skydiver Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld was poised to achieve his dreams. He was training with his team for the World Championships—a life goal since he started practicing the sport at age 5, jumping off his bunk bed with a blanket for a parachute.

Then, on April 23, 1992, Brodsky-Chenfeld lived a nightmare. Along with 22 others, he boarded a plane for a routine training jump. Two months later, he awoke from a coma to discover that a horrific plane crash—one of the worst in skydiving history—had crippled his body and claimed the lives of 16 of his skydiving teammates. The doctors told him that he was lucky to be alive, but he would never skydive again.

In Yali Sharon’s short documentary Above All Else, Brodsky-Chenfeld describes his traumatic near-death experience, the inspiring vision he had before waking from his coma, and his miraculous recovery.

“There are so many times in life that people try to tell you what your limitations are—what you’re capable of,” Brodsky-Chenfeld says in the film. “They don’t get to decide.”

Six months after the accident, Brodsky-Chenfeld was supposed to be recovering in the hospital. Instead, he was skydiving with his teammates, training for the World Championships. Two years later, they won.

Sharon told me that Brodsky-Chenfeld afforded him a new perspective on his own lifelong goals. “He is living proof of how incredible human beings can be when oriented towards a meaningful pursuit,” the filmmaker said.

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.