This is big news today. How is it possible?
The FBI says a teenager stowed away on a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Maui from San Jose, California.
The 16-year-old boy was attempting to run away from his home in Santa Clara, Calif. when he climbed over a fence at Norman Mineta San Jose International Airport and hopped into a wheel well of Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45.
With almost no oxygen at such altitudes and extreme cold, he had a rough time of it. Officials say he was unconscious for most of the five-hour flight and was discovered on the Maui tarmac.
“Within a few minutes up at that altitude, the person would pass out and usually they would not survive for hours on end up there so it just boggles the mind,” said aviation expert Peter Forman. “You would suffocate most likely up there. It’s extremely unlikely that somebody would survive that long at that altitude. And if they did survive, you would think that they would have frostbite and all sorts of problems associated with the cold up there.”
We’ve had tragic stories before of stowaways that did not make it.
Dr Stephen Veronneau, of the US Federal Aviation Administration, has identified 96 individuals around the world who have tried to travel in plane wheel wells since 1947. Add some more since then.
The wheel well area is not pressurized. While short flights may be survivable, long ones do not seem tolerable. Do airplane stowaways ever survive?. This Slate piece reported that in 2000, 3 out of 13 such stowaways survived incoming to the U.S. There may be some initial heat in the wheel well area but not everyone believes that’s where this recent stowaway was.
It does seem clear that it IS possible to survive but more info on this case is needed. Regardless, this would not be an advisible way to travel.
Tip: Joy Harris