Stowaway Survives Flight in Wheel Well

Posted on June 10, 2014 by


A 16-year-old boy survived unharmed after stowing away in the wheel well of a plane. Many people say that he is “lucky to be alive” because of the conditions that he suffered during the five-hour flight from California to Hawaii.

Most people that stow away in wheel wells do not survive the flight, so it is a shock to many that this boy did.

This boy lived in Santa Clara, California, with his parents and three siblings. It was said that he and his parents entered into a fight, which caused him to run away. After maneuvering through several layers of security, such as officers, video cameras, and German shepherds, the boy jumped the fence surrounding the San Jose Airport. The boy then found his way to an aircraft and proceeded into the left wheel well of Hawaiian Airlines 767.

The boy remained undiscovered until the 8 a.m. takeoff. The flight lasted for five hours from California to Maui, Hawaii. People rarely survive flight conditions because of the 38,000-foot altitude. The oxygen levels at this height are only a fraction of what oxygen levels at sea are, and the temperature can range from minus 50 to minus 85 degrees. These conditions are said to cause the stowaways to enter a “hibernation state”. Another question is how the boy fit in the wheel well. There is less room than that of a car trunk, plus there is the possibility of getting crushed when the wheel folds up after starting flight.

When the plane landed in Hawaii, the boy was unconscious; however, he regained consciousness an hour after landing. He then climbed out of the wheel and was seen by airport staff. The staff then notified security, and they escorted him to the FBI.

The FBI then questioned the boy. They found out that the boy was attempting to make it to Somalia to live with his mother who he had not seen since he was two. He was then medically screened and found to be unharmed. After being taken to the hospital, he was released to child protective services and was not charged with any crimes. The California Airport also is not planning on pursuing any criminal charges on the boy. The FBI was confident that the teen did not pose any threat, so they dropped the investigation.

Friends of the boy also stated that they did not know why the boy ran away, but they said that they knew he missed his mother and was not happy in California. Although he had been new in school, many of his new friends never would have thought he would do this.

It is also a mystery to many airport officials how the boy pulled the whole thing off. San Jose Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes stated that the video cameras are watched around the clock; however, no one noticed the boy walking around that night. A Kahului Airport spokeswoman stated that boy was seen right away, but “their primary concern is for the well-being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived”.

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