How did he survive?
A Tweet from November 27 has been going viral, sharing an unbelievable video. It shows a stowaway emerging from the wheel well of a commercial aircraft that's just landed in Miami, from Guatemala.
The stowaway miraculously survived the flight of two and a half hours, enduring freezing temperatures mid-flight of between minus-forty and minus-seventy. He also clearly avoided the obvious risk of falling to his death while the landing gear was lowered at take-off and landing.
The 26-year-old man had managed to hide himself in the landing-gear of the American Airlines flight. US Customs and Border officials have so-far only made an official statement describing the incident, which they say is 'under investigation'. The stowaway himself has been taken to hospital for medical assessment. What happens to him after that, is yet to be determined.
How common are stowaways on flights?
Given the inherent risks associated with trying to hide on commercial airliners, with the extreme cold and risk of falling thousands of feet, very few people try to do so.
Figures from the US Federal Aviation Administration reported in 2019 suggest that 96 people hid under planes during flights around the world between 1947 and 2012, with incidents occurring on 85 flights. Of these, only about one in four stowaways had survived the journey.
The BBC reported a few notable cases that have happened over the years:
- In 1969 - A 22-year-old man, survived a flight from Havana, Cuba, to Madrid, Spain suffering frostbite but no major damage
- In 1996 - Pardeep Saini, 23, survived a 10-hour flight from Delhi to London, but his brother Vijay died falling out of the aircraft as it approached London Heathrow airport
- In 2000 - a stowaway survived the 4,000-mile flight from Tahiti to Los Angeles as a stowaway
- In 2014 - Yahya Abdi, just 15-years of age, stowed away in a Boeing 767 from San Jose, California, to Maui, Hawaii and survived
These cases are definitely the outliers though - far more common are stowaways who freeze to death during the flight or who fall to their death when the aircraft's wheels are lowered for landing.
The stowaway from Guatemala seems to have been very lucky indeed.
What do you think should happen to the stowaway? Should he be awarded a green-card for his efforts and granted the right to remain in the USA? Let me know in the comments section below.