How Common Are Plane Stowaways?

Imagine walking down a quiet street and suddenly, a body just falls out of the sky. It's a crazy, horrifying thought. But it's nearly what happened in a suburb of London last weekend, when a stowaway hiding in the undercarriage of a plane en route to Heathrow plunged to his death. Sounds like a freak situation, but just how often does this madness happen?

Turns out, not as infrequently as you'd think, especially given the obvious immense risk. There has been one other case this year alone. The FAA says since 1947, 96 people have tried to hitch a ride in plane wheel wells on 85 different flights. Just 24 per cent have survived the attempt. Even that number seems high because it's literally impossible to survive the conditions as the plane climbs into the sky -- at high altitudes you can't breathe, you can't see, and you're probably going to get hypothermia. The plane's landing gear doesn't have the oxygen or pressure which let you ride comfortably in the cabin. And those are just the conditions. The landing gear could also crush you or drop you to your demise, like the poor soul in London.

A reasonable person would wonder why someone would resort to such a stupid tactic. The answer, sadly, is almost always desperation -- people travelling from extreme poverty or a violent war, most often from third world countries to the West. You've probably never had the urge to sneak a free ride like this, but in the event you're crazy and you have, stop that. Stop it right now. [BBC]

Image credit: travelight/Shutterstock



    How do 24% of people survive? Unusually high air pressure that day???!?!!?

      short trips?

      That percentage thing is misleading, if only 96 have made the attempt then exactly 23 have survived... plus a 0.04 person?
      But if it's since 1947 then international travel wasn't always like it is now- planes didn't always fly as high or as far. There used to be a lot more stop-offs. It would've been easier to survive a shorter, lower flight.

        Well sorry. Maybe the author should have said 23.9583333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333%

    My dad once told me a story from the fifties about young brothers who had stowed away in the undercarriage of an airplane to come to Australia from Asia and only one of them made it to Australia -the other having fallen out along the way. The government was going to deport him but the populace grew outraged at the suggestion and he was able to stay - suggesting he had earned his citizenship in blood.

      Its a pity such empathy is currently not present.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      Those are people, dude. People dying horribly in ways they weren't educated enough to foresee.

      You have clearly managed to eradicate any last trace of human decency inside you. Congrats.

        A-hole; there are no queues and therefore no queue jumpers. And they tend to be very clean anyway. You are a cultural bimbo/himbo.

      Wow, what a horribly uneducated reply....

      God forbid they should be born in a country where they have no freedom or endless wars, because we all know they were able to choose where they were born.....tosser

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