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Cheap way to fly (and die)

  • 1 Wheel well:

It appears the dead man was hiding hiding there. there.

It is a popular place for stowaways aways

In April last year, a 15-year-old boy sneaked into the wheel heel well well of of a a Boeing Boeing 767 767 and and

flew from San Jose, California, to Maui, Hawaii. He survived. ived.

In February 2014, crews at Dulles International Airport t in in suburban suburban

Washington found the body of a man inside the wheel well ell of of an an

SAA plane.

It’s not difficult to climb inside a wheel well, says Jose

Guillen, a ground-operations coordinator at Chicago’s O’Hare ’Hare

International Airport.

“You can grab on to the struts and landing gear assembly, ly, kind kind of of

like a ladder,” he says. “And you just jump on the tyre and d climb climb into into

the wheel well.”

But after takeoff, many scenarios could kill a stowaway hiding hiding in in the the

landing gear wheel well.

Inside, there’s not much room – even less than in the boot oot of of a a car, car, says says Guillen. Guillen.

A stowaway would need to guess where the tyre is going to fold in when it closes after

takeoff. Otherwise, there’s a high risk of getting crushed 1 2
takeoff. Otherwise, there’s a high risk of getting crushed

Flight Flight time: time: 11 11 hours hours and and 45 45 minutes minutes

Flight Flight distance: distance: Nearly Nearly 9 9 656km 656km

3 1 2 3

Height: Height: 11.5km 11.5km

Temperature Temperature at at that that height: height: About About -57°C -57°C

Landing Landing gear gear bay bay



stowaway who

survived was hiding here

There have been several cases of stowaways being

found dead clinging to the landing gear of planes.

In 2012, a man from Mozambique fell from the

undercarriage of a Heathrow-bound flight from Angola

on to a street under a flight path near Richmond, UK.

An inquest found he may have survived freezing

temperatures for most of the flight, but was “dead or

nearly dead” by the time he hit the ground.

In April this year, an Indonesian stowaway survived an

hourlong flight from Sumatra to Jakarta hidden in the


The body of a presumed stowaway was discovered on a

British Airways plane that arrived at Heathrow from South

Africa in August 2012.

The hiding place would have exposed the man to

temperatures as low as -60°C and severe oxygen

deprivation during the 11-and-a-half-hour flight from Cape


An airline spokesperson said stowaways were a rare

occurrence on any passenger aircraft and there was little

chance of surviving a flight in the landing gear bay. Anyone

hiding in the compartment risked being crushed or burnt by

the wheels after the plane took off.

A Romanian man survived the far shorter flight from Vienna

to Heathrow in 2010 while stowed in the landing gear bay.

Police attributed his escape to the fact that the plane flew

at a far lower altitude than usual due to bad weather, at no

more than 7.6km high during the one-hour journey. Most of

those who chance such a perilous passage would be flying

well above 9km, where oxygen levels and temperatures

make survival virtually impossible