Here’s a story I never thought I’d hear. It turns out a 16-year-old boy survived a 5.5 hour flight in the wheel well of a Boeing 767 that reached 38,000 feet as it traveled from California to Hawaii, according to the FBI.
It’s amazing that he survived despite temperatures going 80 degrees below zero and a lack of oxygen at 38,000 feet.
“He was unconscious for pretty much the entire flight,” said FBI spokesperson Tom Simon. “I imagine he must have blacked out at about 10,000 feet.”
Simon said security footage from the San Jose airport confirmed that the teen hopped a fence to get to Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 on Sunday morning. He told FBI officials that he had run away from his family after an argument, according to Simon. When the flight landed in Maui, he had hopped down from the wheel well and emerged onto the tarmac.
Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman Alison Croyle said that airline personnel had seen the teen after the flight arrived and immediately notified airport security.
He was turned over to local child protection officials, and a medical examination indicated that he appeared to have been unharmed by the ordeal. He has not been charged with a crime.
Some experts are not buying his story.
“It sounds really incredible,” said aviation expert Jeff Wise. “Being in a wheel well is like all of a sudden being on top of Mount Everest.”
A 16-year-old who was in the wheel well of a flight from Charlotte, N.C. to Boston in 2010 didn’t survive, so it’s truly miraculous that the teen in this story did.