Antonio Senna found himself lost, alone in one of the largest and most remote rainforests in Brazil, and what he feared most in his life was “the predators of the Amazon jungle such as tigers, crocodiles and anaconda snakes”.
The 36-year-old pilot didn’t just have to think about the possibility that it was a predator’s next meal, but he had to find some food, water and shelter for himself.
It was a risky mission, and he feared it would take days to be rescued after his plane crashed. What Cena did not expect was that he would struggle to survive, hungry and alone for more than a month.
Fall and crash The Plane
The text of Sinas last wireless message was: “Mayday, Mayday, May … Papa, Tango, India, Romeo, Juliet are down.”
Last January, the plane that Sina was flying alone encountered a technical problem on its way back from a trip to transport supplies to a remote mine.
“The engine stopped suddenly at an altitude of 900 meters. I had to land in the woods,” he told the BBC.
After colliding with many branches and branches of trees, the plane miraculously landed in an uninhabited area, in the north of the Amazon River.
But after he narrowly escaped death, his real problem began to emerge: fuel was scattered throughout the wreckage.
“Of course, I had to leave the wreckage off because I knew I was in a very dangerous situation,” he says.
Cena was unable to use the plane as a shelter, so he stayed nearby hoping that his last message had arrived and rescue teams began searching for him.
He says, “I ate whatever I could see in order to survive in the jungle. I thought I would stay in the woods for a maximum of eight days, which is the usual time when search and rescue teams arrive.”
But an entire week passed without a glimmer of hope for any help.
Walk trip Alone in the jungle
Cena thought deep down that if he wanted to see his loved ones again, he should leave the site where his plane fell and walk to safety as much as possible.
“I realized that they had not found me and that I had to find a way to leave that place if I wanted to meet my family again.”
He began his journey by walking every morning, relying on the first strings of the sun, in a desperate attempt to find the closest populated area: “I decided to go east and walked every morning between two to four hours, and after that I had to plan how to spend my night preparing a shelter and making a fire until Next morning comes. “
Although the Amazon forest is dangerous for anyone who might suddenly find himself alone without transportation or communication, Sina did have some skills that gave him a chance to survive.
“Thanks to my work in aviation, I completed a training course on how to survive in the woods, and I was also born and raised in the Amazon.”
And Sina had spent a long time learning from people who lived in remote areas of the rainforest, information that could be tantamount to knowing the difference between life and death now.
“Every time I had the opportunity I would talk to the people who used to live there, you can learn a lot of things from them.”
The first thing Cena needed to help him survive was to find food, so he began to search the woods for what could keep him alive.
“There was a fruit that I had never seen in my life before, but I noticed that monkeys were eating it, so I told myself if monkeys can eat it, I can do that too,” he says.
He also came across cocoa many times, but needed to find more food than just fruit.
So what is the solution?
“Nandos eggs are abundant in the middle of the forest,” he explains. A flightless bird, like the emu, lays a “big blue egg,” and Senna manages to find it from time to time.
“Eggs are still white, they are protein, and I needed them in those moments, so I was eating them raw,” he says.
How do Avoid monsters and predators؟
Although he was finding enough food to survive the journey, he needed to learn to avoid becoming a meal for the ravages of the Amazon.
“Every time I stopped and built a shelter for me, I used to do it on the hilltops, because tigers, crocodiles and anaconda snakes live near the water, so I never camped near the water,” he explains.
He was also keen on making a lot of noise while walking in the woods because he knew that an animal might surprise him and attack him suddenly.
A glimmer of hope
Although Cena managed to survive, he lost a lot of weight. It has been weeks since he left the wreckage of his plane. After 36 days, he finally found a small group of people.
“After all this time of walking, climbing, hiking and passing rivers, I found a group of Brazilian nut pickers in a remote area,” he says.
He couldn’t see them at first, but he tracked down the noise they were making as they worked.
He finally felt that he was close to overcoming his long ordeal.
“The only thing that motivated me and gave me the strength to carry on and endure the pain and hunger was my strong desire to meet my family again,” he says.
“When I finally left the woods and met them at the airport, that was the most beautiful moment in my entire life.”
Planes and helicopters were sent to search for him, but the search stopped weeks ago without finding him.
Had Antonio not been able to get out of the rainforest himself, the downfall of his plane would have been the end of his dream of seeing his family again.
“Finally, I could hug them and tell them how much I love them,” he says. “I did it all for them only, I was thinking of them all the time.”