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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Prof: ‘Amazing’ that plane stowaway lived

 
 

The FBI confirmed Monday that a 16-year-old boy traveled from San Jose, Calif., to Honolulu, Hawaii, sitting in a not-so-typical airline seat – the wheel well of the plane.
Sunday morning, a boy ran away from home, climbed into the undercarriage area of a Boeing 767 and hid away for more than five hours until the plane landed in Honolulu, FBI spokesman Tom Simon said to the Associated Press. The boy was discovered on the tarmac upon arrival and taken into custody.
Kenneth Bowman, Texas A&M professor of meteorology, said given the conditions at an altitude of 38,000 feet, it was amazing the teen survived the flight.
“The pressure is about 20 percent of what it is at sea level, so there’s only about 20 percent as much oxygen available,” Bowman said. “The summit of Mt. Everest is about 29,000 feet and this is almost 10,000 feet higher than that, almost two miles higher. People can barely make it the summit of Mt. Everest, and if you stay up there very long, you die.”
Along with the high altitude, Bowman said temperatures at that height could be well below zero, sitting around minus 70 or minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bowman said this is not the first time this has happened. Multiple news outlets have sourced the Federal Aviation Agency, which reports “105 stowaways have sneaked aboard 94 flights worldwide since 1947, and about one out of four survived.”
“It must be like drowning in cold water, where they can revive people after a long period under really cold water because their metabolism and everything has just slowed almost to a stop,” Bowman said.
Leighton James, junior agribusiness major, said she was surprised the boy was able to get onto the plane without being noticed.
“I wondered how he got away with it and why no one saw him,” James said. “I would’ve never dreamed that was even possible without getting caught. I was also shocked that it had happened before.”
Maxwell Zhou, junior electrical engineering major, said he was surprised.
“I think it’s crazy,” Zhou said. “How on earth did he survive those temperatures and lack of oxygen?”
James said she would not have had the courage to run away, let alone climb inside a plane.
“I don’t think I would have ever had the guts to run away,” James said. “The furthest I ever ran away was to the backyard. I definitely would’ve never climbed into the wheel well of the plane. I would’ve been terrified.”

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