Officials say a 16-year-old boy is “lucky to be alive” after flying from California to Hawaii stowed away in a Hawaiian Airlines plane’s wheel well, surviving temperatures estimated to be around 80 degrees below zero at 38,000 feet and lacking adequate oxygen supply.
“Doesn’t even remember the flight,” said an FBI spokesman in Honolulu. “It’s amazing he survived that.”
The boy was questioned by the FBI after being discovered on the tarmac at the Maui airport Sunday morning with no identification. “Kid’s lucky to be alive,” said the spokesman, adding that the trip lasted about 5 1/2 hours and the boy “was unconscious for the lion’s share of the flight.” Authorities reported that temperatures at 38,000 feet were estimated to be around 80 degrees below zero and the boy was discovered with no serious medical problems. However, some aviation experts are questioning how the boy could have survived.
The FBI said security footage from the San Jose airport verified that the boy from Santa Clara, Calif., hopped a fence to get to Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 on Sunday morning. The child had run away from his family after an argument, Simon said. Simon said when the Boeing 767 landed in Maui, the boy hopped down from the wheel well and started wandering around the airport grounds.
His misadventure immediately raised security questions. A congressman who serves on the Homeland Security committee wondered how the teen could have sneaked onto the airfield at San Jose unnoticed. A Mineta San Jose International Airport spokeswoman said airport police were working with the FBI and the Transportation Security Administration to review security at the facility as part of an investigation.