In the end, his family couldn't believe he was alive, and in fairness, Antonio Sena probably shouldn't have been. The 36-year-old Brazilian pilot had to crash-land his small plane deep in the Amazon jungle after its single engine conked out, reports arynews.tv. He survived the landing, however, and then survived a 36-day trek through the jungle until he came across people gathering chestnuts. The remarkable story unfolded over February and March, and the New York Times has a detailed account. Sena walked eastward every day, setting up a makeshift camp each afternoon to shelter from the rain. He slept on hills to better avoid jungle predators, though he frequently had to contend with packs of spider monkeys attempting to destroy his shelter. The monkeys, however, proved to be a saving grace.
Sena tells the Times that he watched them eating a small fruit called breu, and it was that meager fruit that sustained him over the 17-mile trek. Aside from rainwater and a handful of eggs, he consumed nothing else and ended up dropping 55 pounds. Sena finally heard a chainsaw and kept walking in the direction of the noise until he came across a group of people gathering nuts in the jungle. They gave him food, summoned help, and alerted his family, who required some initial convincing this wasn't a hoax. “If I had fallen somewhere in a deserted plantation site, I wouldn’t have water, shelter, or what to eat,” Sena says. “The Amazon is so rich.” Read the full Times account, which notes that Sena had been ferrying fuel to an illegal gold mine when he crashed. He says that lean times in the pandemic forced him to take the work, but that it will be his last such trip. (Read more plane crash stories.)