Santa Clara, CA, United States (4E) – A 16-year-old boy stowaway miraculously survived a five-hour, 2,300-mile flight from California to Hawaii on a plane’s wheel well on Sunday.
The boy, whose name was withheld, was found wandering the tarmac of Maui’s Kahului Airport around 10:30 a.m. After questioning, FBI Special Agent Tom Simon learned he is from Santa Clara and he sneaked into the Santa Clara Mineta International Airport (SCMIA) and climbed the Hawaiin Airlines jet’s wheel well undetected.
Footage from surveillance cameras at the SCMIA confirmed the boy’s account as the video showed him hopping the airport’s fence and walking across the ramp towards the aircraft. The A Maui airport’s security camera also caught the boy crawling out of the left main gear area.
The boy told the FBI agent that he lost consciousness when the plane took off and woke up an hour after the Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 landed. Airport crews also were surprised to find the boy unharmed. He was given a medical checkup and turned over to the Hawaiian Department of Human Services.
Simon said he did not know how the boy survived the lack of oxygen and freezing temperature in the unpressurized wheel well when the plane was at an altitude of 38,000 feet. The boy could have also been crushed by the wheel when it goes in or fell when the gear opens up There were, however, some past cases of stowaways who survived on a plane’s wheel well, according to aviation experts.
The boy’s parents have been notified and he was not charged with any offense for not posing a threat to the airline.
Meanwhile, the incident saw airport authorities, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration getting concerned about the security breach caused by the runaway teen.