The worst seat on the plane – there’s no oxygen and it’s bitter cold

This is big news today. How is it possible?

Teen survives flight in wheel well of Hawaiian jet – Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL.

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.

Rain of flesh over neighborhood | Doubtful News.

Stowaway Might Have Survived International Flight in Wheel Well | LiveScience.

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.

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  3 comments for “The worst seat on the plane – there’s no oxygen and it’s bitter cold

  1. Erik
    April 21, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    The thing that concerns me it not stowaways in wheelwells, but the fact that a teenage kid was able to hop a fence in San Jose and have this kind of access to an aircraft. Nice job, airport security.

    • One Eyed Jack
      April 21, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      I’ve been saying ever since the “improved” airport security post 9-11, that it’s all an illusion. Anyone that travels frequently (as I did) and knows a little bit about how airports work can bypass security with minimal effort.

      The increased security at airports is primarily for show. It restores the public illusion of security, but does little to actually increase security. That said, the illusion is necessary because the threat is blown out of proportion. Terrorist attacks get a huge amount of press because they are dramatic. The illusion of security allows people to continue about their lives feeling safe again.

      You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane.

      http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/04/statistics-you-are-not-going-to-be-killed-by-terrorists.html

      We humans are terrible with statistics. We tend to focus on the dramatic with little regard to probability.

  2. Adam
    April 22, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Airports have such large perimeters that it would be impossible to prevent intruders. Even regular patrols, trip wires, motion sensors, cameras etc. wouldn’t catch everything. Nor is it hard to think of ways to subvert such a system.

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