DON’T TRY THIS: 16 Year Old Survives 5 Hour Flight On Wheel Well

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When I was watching the BBC World News, they had this story about 16 year old Californian kid that had survived the 5 hour flight from San Jose to Maui in airplane’s wheel well.

Hawaiian Airlines Stowaway

Every year, there are usually couple of sad stories about corpses dropping during the landing or found at the airport once the plane has landed, usually of individuals attempting illegal immigration.

You can read more about this story on LA Time’s website here or on SFGate’s website here.

These wheel wells are neither pressurized nor heated. The lack of oxygen will knock you oout and it is really cold at 37,000 feet. You are likely to freeze, but this very lucky young guy survived.

Here are some tidbits from the SFGate article:

Aviation and security experts were at a loss Monday as to how a 16-year-old boy from Santa Clara managed to scale a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport before surviving a five-hour flight to Maui in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet.

Surveillance video showed the boy hopping a fence at the San Jose airport while it was still dark Sunday morning and then walking toward a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 on the tarmac, authorities said. Flight 45 took off at 7:55 a.m. – with no one realizing that the boy had snuck into the plane’s wheel well.

The boy was apparently unconscious for the duration of the flight at high altitude and extremely cold temperatures. After the plane landed at Kahului Airport in Maui at 10:30 a.m. local time, “Hawaiian Airlines personnel in Maui noticed the individual on the ramp” and immediately notified airport security, said Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman Alison Croyle.


I am glad that this story had a good ending, although all the odds were against him. Seems that the security at the San Jose airport is rather lax if someone can just jump over the fence and hide himself in the wheel well.