People

People can often be the most complicated anomaly of all. In the following categories you’ll find tidbits on unusual people that may make your next door neighbor seem… well, not so abnormal after all.

That time a pilot survived a B-52 airplane crash despite no obvious exit, no safe landing zone, and two failed parachute deployments – from a plane carrying 2 atomic bombs.

Stop me if you've heard this one before. A pilot survives a plane crash against all odds, despite having no exit point from the crashing plane, no safe zone to land in, and two failed parachute deployments on the way down. Did I mention the airplane was carrying two nuclear bombs? Did I mention one of the radioactive bombs is still buried under a cotton field- in North Carolina? The Operation Chrome Dome program January 1961 was just a typical day for the eight pilots aboard a B-52 bomber. Operation Chrome Dome was in full swing. For 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, multiple B-52 bombers carrying two Mark-39 hydrogen thermonuclear atomic bombs flew above the Northern Hemisphere, waiting for Russia to make a false

Heaven’s Gate – the cult that killed themselves in order to board a waiting UFO hiding behind a comet.

Who were Heaven's Gate? Applewhite’s family could understand how the man they knew - a friendly, happy, caring Christian and devoted husband and father of two - could walk away from everything to found a cult. But that's what Marshall Applewhite did. And not just any cult. Heaven’s Gate was strange even among the bizarre New Age beliefs that were popularized in the 1970s — a time when a generation of free spirits were leaving the conventional behind to find themselves. For one, Heaven’s Gate was the first cult to go hi-tech. It had a website before most traditional businesses did, and its beliefs were meticulously spacey, involving aliens, UFOs, and talk of ascension to the “next level.” Visitors to the website were not quite sure if what

The bizarre Russian cult that buried themselves alive – more than two-dozen men, women, and children buried alive to achieve salvation.

The road to redemption is never an easy path but for a shadowy cult in a small Russian village, the way was particularly difficult. To achieve salvation, they had to die. But not only did they have to perish, they had to depart life in a most horrific way. For these unfortunate believers, in order to reach paradise, they had to be buried alive. Liman, Russia – 1896 The tiny village of Liman is located twenty-eight miles from Tiraspol in the province of Kherson in what is now modern-day Ukraine. It was a small village of about thirty people, most of who belonged to a cult known as Raskol Niki (or Raskoinki). Raskol Niki was a vague subsect of a religious division known as the Old Believers

London children as young as 4-years-old forced to squeeze through miles of pitch-black, claustrophobic, suffocating 7-inch chimney flues (1800’s).

The child had no choice. Sold as cheap labor by poverty-stricken parents with too many mouths to feed, they were between 4 and 8 years of age, too young to defend themselves or flee their owner and live on their own. Unfortunately, they were just the right size to squeeze into narrow, pitch black, claustrophobic, suffocatingly-hellish 7-inch chimney flues. The dangers child chimney sweeps faced In early 1800 England, immediately after the Industrial Revolution and during the Victorian Era, child chimney sweeps faced a hellish task. They were lowered into narrow chimneys by their owner and forced to clean soot, grime, and creosote from the chimney flue. Falling or being burnt to death was always a possibility but worse, if they lost their way in the complex

That time a sewer worker discovered a drainage pipe leading into a vault full of gold

In the early 1800’s, London’s sewer systems were a mess. Early household cesspools, cisterns located underneath homes that collected waste water sewerage, had migrated to a labyrinth of underground tunnels snaking throughout London. The sewer system was constructed to solve London’s disease problem by directing sewage away from homes and into the Thames river. For the system to work properly, the sewer pipes had to be periodically repaired and cleared of debris. Sewer workers, such as Randolph Gentry, made a decent living doing the dirty work. About 1836, Randolph Gentry was directed to make a repair to a drain in east London, just a few blocks north of the River Thames. During the repair work, Gentry checked ancillary drainage systems to ensure they contained no debris.

The many times Ernest Hemingway almost died from bizarre accidents (before taking his life by his own hand).

From the mid 1920’s through the mid 1950’s, Ernest Miller Hemmingway produced some of the world’s greatest literary works. His books are considered American classics for which he was awarded a Nobel Prize. Ultimately Hemmingway died by his own hand, and odd ending to a life plagued with bizarre, horrific accidents, many of which nearly killed him. Hemingway’s early near-death events Hemingway nearly loses a leg after being hit by mortar fire Shortly after high school, Ernest Hemingway enlisted for the Army in order to serve in World War I. He worked as an ambulance driver, transporting wounded soldiers from the battlefield to field hospitals. While at camp and returning from a run to grab chocolate bars for the soldiers, he was wounded by mortar fire (more favorable

The Waiting for Death photo – photographer captures memorable dying child scene, then kills himself

Captured by photographer Kevin Carter in 1992, it came to be known as the Waiting for Death photo and went on to win the 1994 Pulitzer Prize. The graphic picture shows a starving Sudanese child collapsed on the ground, kneeling, waiting for death as a wide-eyed vulture sits patiently in the background, waiting for its next meal. When the picture was published in the New York Times on March 26, 1993, the international community was horrified – and awakened - while the toll from the horrors he witnessed led Carter down a path of destruction. Kevin Carter travels with Operation Lifeline Sudan Kevin Carter traveled to Sudan in 1993 alongside a United Nations group tasked with assisting starving Sudanese under the umbrella of Operation Lifeline Sudan. Sudan already had a long and

Mother and six children held in underground room for 24 years see outside world for first time- the Fritzl case

The horror – held captive in basement dungeon for 24 years When the public found that Josef Fritzl had held a woman, his daughter, and three of her children captive in a rat-infested basement dungeon for 24 years, the act seemed unspeakable, as if a real-life boogey man had stepped from the pages of a horror novel into their reality. The four-day trail of Josef exposed a web of horror, a series of events that surpassed the worst snuff film or penny dreadful, events that would cause permanent physical and emotional damage to the captives and send one person to prison for life. Elisabeth flees from Josef Fritzl’s abuse Josef Fritzl was born on April 9, 1934 in Amstetten, Austria, a small town of 14,000 located halfway between Vienna

Bangladesh Tree Man – rare disease causes tree-like branches to grow from his body

In Bangladesh, Abul Bajandra is known as the “Tree Man” because of an extremely rare genetic condition known as Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis, or "Tree Man" disease, which causes large bark-like tentacles, resembling tree branches, to grow from his body. In Bajandra’s instance, the tree-like branches grow from his fingers, palms, and feet and are so large and cumbersome, he cannot eat, drink, brush his teeth, or take a shower without assistance. In fact, according to Bajandra, about the only thing he can do with his hands is scratch his neck. He relies on his 21-year-old wife, Halima, to feed and take care of him. Bajandra first noticed the growths on his legs in 2006 when he was 15-years-old. Doctors tried medicines but the growths continued to spread across

Niccolo Paganini – the virtuoso violinist that people believed sold his soul to the devil

Born in 1782, Niccolo Paganini was an expert Italian violinist, guitarist, and composer. The most celebrated virtuoso violinist of his time, his technique and abilities were thought to be “beyond a human’s capabilities”. His concerts left attendees entranced and wondering, “Did Paganini make a deal with the devil, or had Satan taken a human form?” When Paganini’s father recognized his unique talents at age 7, he put him under renowned instructors such as Giovanni Servetto and Giacomo Costa but within months, Paganini’s talent progressed beyond that of his teachers. His father then travelled to Parma to seek the guidance of master violinist Alessandro Rolla. Rolla immediately referred him to his own teacher, Ferdinando Paer. Paganini continued to be passed from teacher to teacher until finally, Paganini’s

That time President Roosevelt was shot in the chest but went ahead, took the stage, and made his speech anyway

Four U.S. presidents have been assassinated – Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. Even more survived attempted assassinations including Andrew Jackson, William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. Any presidential assassination attempt is highly unusual but the attempt to assassinate President Theodore Roosevelt stands head and shoulders above any other. Roosevelt was shot in the chest just before making a speech, but with blood seeping through his shirt and a bullet lodged in his chest, he took the stage anyway and made his speech. The Theodore Roosevelt assassination attempt Theodore Roosevelt succeeded William McKinley who himself was assassinated on September

That time in World War II when Japan used a hot air balloon to bomb Oregon and kill six people

It may surprise you to find that there were actually six civilian casualties in the 48 states during World War II. The incident occurred in 1945 when a Japanese balloon bomb floated into the United States where it killed six people in rural eastern Oregon. They are the only World War II U.S. combat casualties in the contiguous 48 states.  Up until their deaths, U.S. officials kept news of the deadly weaponized balloons from the public in order to avoid panic. The death of Elyse and five children in Oregon On May 5, 1945, as the United States and Japan were locked in the final stages of World War II, Reverend Archie Mitchell and his wife were driving five young teenage students to a Saturday afternoon picnic.

“Bionic girl”, incapable of tiring, feeling hunger, pain, nor fear – has no sense of danger

Doctors dubbed 7-year-old Olivia Farnsworth of Huddersfield, England, the “bionic girl” because a rare chromosome condition (chromosome 6 deletion) renders her incapable of feeling pain, hunger, or exhaustion. Her mother, 32-year-old Niki Trepak, explained to reporters: “Doctors have called her the bionic girl; she's made of steel - and she's got no sense of danger.” Geneticists say they have never come across the disorder before and believe Olivia is the only person in the world with these unusual characteristics. Hit and drug by a car, she never even cried Lest you think Olivia has an admirable condition, recognize that her rare disorder also renders her impervious to fear or the normal human rules of self-preservation. For instance, little Oliva was run over by a car – and drug hundreds of feet underneath it –

Interesting official testimony from survivors of the Titanic (Long)

During the United States Senate Inquiry into the sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic on April 15, 1912, many survivors provided testimony describing their last moments on the ship. Below is a sampling of those testimonies. Testimony of Olaus Abelseth (Testimony taken separately before Senator William Alden Smith, chairman of the subcommittee.) (The witness was sworn by Senator Smith.)   Senator SMITH. I wish you would tell the reporter when you first knew of this collision, and what you did, and where you were in the ship. I believe you were a steerage passenger? Mr. ABELSETH. Yes, sir. Senator SMITH. In the forward part of the ship? Mr. ABELSETH. Yes. I was in compartment G on the ship. Senator SMITH. Go ahead and tell us just what happened. Mr. ABELSETH. I went to bed about 10 o'clock Sunday night, and I think

14-year-old George Stinney – youngest person ever executed in the U.S. – required a booster seat in the electric chair

At only 14 years of age, George Junius Stinney, Jr. was the youngest person ever executed in the United States. Weighing barely 90 lbs., Stinney was so small, he required a booster seat to reach the headpiece of the electric chair. Stinney had been convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of two young white girls, 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 8-year-old Mary Emma Thames. With no physical evidence in the case and only the testimony of three southern police officers claiming Stinney had given a confession, the all-white jury convicted Stinney in less than ten minutes. The deaths of Betty Binnicker and Mary Thames The deaths of Betty and Mary occurred on March 23, 1944 in Alcolu, South Carolina, deep in the Jim Crow South. The girls were last seen