Teenage Boy Survives Flight From San Jose To Hawaii In Wheel Well
It’s nothing short of a miracle that a teen managed to live with little to no oxygen and in temperatures that were probably well below zero after he stowed away in a plane’s wheel well during a flight from San Jose, California to Hawaii. Experts believe that the 15-year-old, who told authorities that he had passed out shortly after takeoff, may have endured the five-and-a-half-hour, 2,300-mile flight in a state of suspended animation.
According to Time, the plane reached altitudes of up to 38,000 feet and at that height, there is very little oxygen and temperatures can drop to 80 degrees below freezing. So how did the teen, who ran away from home after fighting with his family, survive such frigid temperatures and the lack of oxygen?
Experts believe that for the boy to have survived these conditions, his body must have entered into a hibernation-like state. In addition, the wheel well area could have been warmer than the outside air temperatures because of heat coming from the plane’s hydraulic lines or from the tires. And, fortunately for the boy, he somehow managed not to fall out of the wheel well during the flight nor was he crushed by the landing gear as it was being retracted.
The Santa Clara boy was discovered wandering the tarmac, disoriented and weak, about an hour after the plane landed at Maui’s Kahului Airport by a worker, who then notified the authorities. Although the teen’s tale of survival is hard for some to believe, airport surveillance video showed the boy exiting the wheel well in Hawaii. And in San Jose, a surveillance camera there showed an “unidentified person” approaching the same Hawaiian Airlines plane that the boy had stowed away on.
Since 1948, a total of 105 people have tried to stow away inside a plane’s wheel well, but only 25 have lived through the flights. In August 2013, a teenager survived a 45-minute domestic flight in Nigeria that reached altitudes of 21,000 feet. And in a case similar to this recent incident, a man, in 2000, named Fidel Maruhi managed to survive a seven-hour, 4000-mile flight from Tahiti to Los Angeles.
Despite the freezing temperatures, the boy, who has not been named by authorities, apparently suffered no injuries during the flight. He was eventually turned over to child protective services in Hawaii.