A sixteen-year- old runaway from Santa Clara, California stowed away in the landing gear of a Hawaiian Airlines plane and made it all the way to Hawaii. Authorities are saying that it is a miracle that he survived.
The boy climbed the fence at the San Jose, California Airport and hid in the landing gear. CNN reports that,” officials believe the boy rode in the tiny, cramped compartment for almost five hours, at altitudes that reached 38,000 feet, without oxygen and under subzero temperatures.”
People have attempted to ride in the landing gear over the years, but most have not survived. CNN says, “Since 1947, 105 people are known to have attempted to fly inside the wheel wells on 94 flights worldwide, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute says. Of those, 25 made it through, including a 9-year-old child—a survival rate of 24%.”
The airline and aircrew were not aware that the boy was on the flight. He walked out about an hour after the plane had landed and surprised the ground crew.
Flying in the landing gear at altitudes is very dangerous. CNN explains that often times the body will cool itself, putting the person into unconsciousness so the central nervous system is protected.
The boy may have some health problems because of this. CNN reported, “The boy could face permanent brain damage from the experience — in fact, it’s “more likely than not,” Stahl said. He could face neurological issues, memory problems or a lower IQ.
“The teen also could have a kidney injury because when the body freezes, particles of muscle enter the blood stream and damage the kidneys,” Stahl said. “He could also lose tissue due to frostbite.”