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Teen Stowaway Survives Flight At 38,000 Feet With Temperatures Minus 80 Degrees

April 21, 2014 - On Sunday authorities at Kahului Airport, Hawaii were stun to learn a 16 year old boy had survived a flight from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines’ Boeing 767-300 jet. 

Security video shows the 16 year old had climb over a fence at Santa Clara airport, California and made his way to Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 at Terminal A where he climbed up into the aircrafts wheel well. 

Flight 45 departed San Jose International Airport at about 8:03 AM and climbed to 38,000 feet. The Boeing 767 traveled 2,751 miles and after 5 hours 15 minutes the aircraft landed. 

FBI spokesman, Tom Simon said “How he survived I don’t know, it’s a miracle. He was unconscious for pretty much the entire flight. I imagine he must have blacked out at about 10,000 feet. The air is pretty thin up there.” 


Simon further stated that the 16 year old did not regain consciousness until about an hour after the aircraft touched down. At which point the youth climbed down the wheel well unharmed despite freezing temperatures and a lack of oxygen onto the tarmac and that’s when he was spotted by airport ramp workers. 

Simon also stated the youth who had run away from home did not pose a threat to the airline and he was not being charged with a crime and that he has been medically cleared and was placed with the Hawaiian Department of Human Services. Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman Alison Croyle said “our primary concern now is the well being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived.” 

Stowaways in aircraft wheel wells face numerous health risks, many of which are fatal: being mangled when undercarriage retracts, tinnitus, deafness, hypothermia, hypoxia, frostbite, acidosis and finally falling when the doors of the compartment reopen.



The landing gear compartment is not equipped with heating, pressure or oxygen, which are vital for survival at a high altitude. According to experts, at 18,000 feet, hypoxia causes lightheadedness, weakness, vision impairment and tremors. By 22,000 feet the oxygen level of the blood drops and the person will struggle to stay conscious. Above 33,000 feet their lungs would need artificial pressure to operate normally. 

The temperature could drop as low as −81 °F which causes severe hypothermia. Those stowaways who managed to not be crushed by the retracting undercarriage or killed by the deadly conditions would most likely be unconscious when the compartment door re-opens during the approach and fall several thousand feet to their deaths.
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