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Monday, April 21, 2014

Teen Gets to Hawaii in the Wheel Well of a Jet

Posted by on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 11:10 AM

What the WHAT?

The FBI says a 16-year-old boy stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from California to Hawaii, and survived. The boy is expected to fully recover."

According to The Maui News, the unidentified teen survived the trip "halfway across the Pacific Ocean unharmed despite frigid temperatures at 38,000 feet and a lack of oxygen, FBI and airline officials said."

Even though there is surveillance footage of the teen climbing the fence to get to the flight in California and climbing down from the wheel well in Hawaii, there's also some speculation about whether or not this is real:

The Chronicle adds that "pilot and aviation consultant John Nance said the incident is 'one of three things — a hoax, a miracle or we're going to have to rewrite the textbooks if he actually did what he says he did. He needs to be studied very carefully by medical science because this is not supposed to be possible.' "


Comments (15) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Hoax. No way. I bet it's like the balloon boy.
Posted by Confluence on April 21, 2014 at 11:13 AM · Report this
Obviously, an Easter miracle!

Oh yeah, and Happy Easter:…
Posted by sgt_doom on April 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM · Report this
lark 3
I read the story. I find it extraordinary or a hoax. I'm leaning toward the latter. Extremely rare to survive that.
Posted by lark on April 21, 2014 at 11:48 AM · Report this
I was discussing this with my aviation and meteorology friends. None of us are health experts, mind you. I was (am?) very skeptical. The current thought is that hypothermia can delay the impacts of hypoxia, which enables the rare person who attempts this stunt to survive.
Posted by wxPDX on April 21, 2014 at 12:06 PM · Report this
Fnarf 5
Hoax or not, this will lead to an increase in the corpses of copycats being lifted out of wheel wells everywhere.
Posted by Fnarf on April 21, 2014 at 12:28 PM · Report this
@5: That, and more security theater in airport operations.
Posted by Phil M on April 21, 2014 at 12:39 PM · Report this
Fnarf, wheel wells tend to be self-cleaning:…

Smells like a hoax - five hours at cruising altitude, the kid should be dain-bramaged.
Posted by Toe Tag on April 21, 2014 at 12:41 PM · Report this
mkyorai 8
@7 He tried to stow away in a wheel well for a flight to Hawii. He was arguably brain-damaged before.
Posted by mkyorai on April 21, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Sandiai 9
@7, thank you for that reference.
Posted by Sandiai on April 21, 2014 at 1:08 PM · Report this
While I wouldn't rule out hoax, if hypothermia hit him first this really could be survivable (though absolutely profoundly stupid and lucky). Hypothermia can basically put the body in stasis temporarily and protects the brain up to a point, from low oxygen damage (this is one reason drowning victims "aren't dead until they are warm and dead" as a doctor friend of mine put it). Modern pediatric cardiac surgeons regularly used controlled hypothermia to completely stop blood circulation for up to 40 minutes so they can operate on the aorta without damage to the patient.…
Posted by lone locust on April 21, 2014 at 1:14 PM · Report this
ferret 11
Most of the time, the person falls out unconscious when the landing gear is deployed a couple miles/km from the airport. This has happened to explain why an undocumented young man from Africa was found in an UK field a couple miles/km from Heathrow.

People have survived this, but I think this is possible because the flight was probably 5-6 hours just enough for the young man to survive. If the flight was longer, he would be shark bait in the Maui Channel, as he dropped unconscious into the ocean.
Posted by ferret http://!/okojo on April 21, 2014 at 3:07 PM · Report this
ferret 12
@10.. To use hypothermia as a way to induce coma, it has to use gradually implemented, because the risk of shock, ditto for raising the core temperature to normal body temperature.

Drowning victims from let's say 40/10 degree water, has to be in the water for couple minutes to have third stage hypothermia. Drowning is suffocation. People who passed out drunk in sub zero temperatures have survive, but most of the time had to have their feet and hands amputated because of frostbite/gangrene.
Posted by ferret http://!/okojo on April 21, 2014 at 3:15 PM · Report this
Never mind hypothermia, wouldn't 5 hours at 38000 feet induce frostbite? Or are wheelwells warmed somehow to keep things from getting too brittle? The standard atmosphere table I'm looking at says it's 68 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit, at 38000 feet. Anyone exposed to that for a few hours would have severely frostbit fingers, toes, ears and whatnot.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on April 21, 2014 at 3:50 PM · Report this
tdalec 14
Hoe Ax for sure.
Posted by tdalec on April 21, 2014 at 3:52 PM · Report this
@12 I never said the kid wasn't incredibly lucky assuming this isn't a hoax, (see all the incidents of unconscious victims falling out of wheel wells etc), only that this is probably more survivable then some folks (the ones saying this kid should be studied by science because its a miracle) are making out. Remember also, with a reported flight time of 5 1/2 hours, not all of that time is at 39,000 feet, as pointed out in the LA times article, the loss of oxygen and heat over the duration of ascent could gradually induce unconsciousness and hypothermia.
Posted by lone locust on April 21, 2014 at 4:25 PM · Report this

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