After a 16-year-old boy climbed into a plane’s wheel well and traveled 5 1/2 hours from California to Hawaii, landing unharmed, officials are saying he’s “lucky to be alive” and are calling his survival “a miracle.”
That’s because most who attempt such travel do not survive.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, from 1996 to August 2012, there have been 95 stowaways on 84 flights worldwide and more than 75 percent of them have died, reports usatoday.com.
Health risks include getting crushed when the landing gear retracts, falling when compartment doors reopen, hypothermia, frostbite, hearing loss, tinnitus, hypoxia, and acidosis, according to a bbc.com report.
“They either get crushed or frozen to death,” aviation expert David Learmount told bbc.com.
Other lucky stowaways in recent years include a teenage boy in Nigeria who stowed away in August for a 35-minute flight and a 20-year-old Romanian man who survived a trip from Vienna to Heathrow in 2010 inside the landing gear of a Boeing 747. In both of those incidents, experts said the lower altitude of 25,000 is what helped save them.
Examples of stowaways who didn’t make it include a 16-year-old boy named Delvonte Tisdale who fell to his death in Milton after stowing away aboard a flight from Charlotte, N.C., to Boston in 2010 and a 26-year-old man who fell onto a London street in 2012.Kristi Palma can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on twitter @kristipalma.