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California Teen Survives Five Hour Flight To Hawaii In Airplane’s Wheel Well

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We all are eager to get away from our homes from time to time, go on a vacation, see an exotic location or two. It clears our minds of the mundane and helps refresh our souls and our senses. But, most of us vacation the proper way, purchasing our airline tickets and anything else we’ll need to get away from it all for a little bit. A 15 year-old California boy went on one incredible adventure over the holiday weekend when he found his way into an airplane’s wheel well for a freezing-cold five-hour flight that landed in Hawaii.

Hawaiian Airlines

The Santa Clara, California boy was seen climbing out of the Boeing 767’s left rear wheel well on Sunday by airport employees, where he was immediately escorted inside and was interviewed by the FBI.

Honolulu FBI spokesman Tom Simon says,

“He got very lucky that he got to go to Maui but he was not targeting Maui as a destination. He passed out in the air and didn’t regain consciousness until an hour after the plain had landed.”

Experts are baffled at how the teen survived the five-hour flight in the unpressurized space, where temperatures often fall below zero, and the air becomes extremely thin, making nearly impossible for a human to stay conscious.

teen stores away in airplane wheel

A study conducted by the FAA has found that some people can survive because their bodies enter a hibernation-like state. Isaac Yeffet, former head of security for the Israeli airline El Al says that despite the billions of dollars invested, the United Sates airport security still has it’s weaknesses, stating,

“Shame on us for doing such a terrible job, perimeters are not well protected. We see it again and again.”

Representative Eric Swalwell of the San Francisco Bay Area commented via Twitter, saying,

“I have long been concerned about security at our airport perimeters. #Stowaway teen demonstrates vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.”

On Monday, the authorities began the task of trying to figure out how the teenager evaded the multiple levels of security at the airport, including their wide-range video surveillance, police officers and German Shepard dogs. Rosemary Barnes, San Jose International Airport spokeswoman says that the airport’s employees monitor the security video feeds that are all over the 1,050-acre airport 24 hours a day. She adds that none of the employees had noticed the image of an unidentified person walking around the airport ramp and approaching the flight bound for Hawaii until security agents had reviewed the footage after the plane had touched down in Hawaii and the boy had been located. Various areas around the airport are surrounded by barbed wire fence, but some are not, and those areas can easily be scaled, where one would find access to the tarmac and easy access to the planes grounded there. Barnes says that the boy had found his way onto the tarmac sometime during the night, “under the cover of darkness.”

Hours later at Kahului airport in Hawaii, surveillance footage showed the teen getting himself out of the wheel well after the plane had landed, according to a statement by Hawaii’s Department of Transportation. The video was not released due to the pending investigation. Alison Croyle, Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman said after the flight had arrived, airline personnel had spotted the boy on the ramp, after which they immediately notified airline security. Croyle adds,

“Our primary concern now is for the well-being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived.”

Inside the airport, checkpoint security is handled by the Transportation Security Administration, while the outside airport perimeters are monitored by the local authorities, in addition to federal law enforcement. Currently, the airport police are collaborating with the TSA and the FBI to review security. The teen has been released to child-protective services in Hawaii, and was not charged with a crime. The owners of the California airport are not planning on pressing criminal charges against the boy, according to the information currently available.


Jennifer is a stay-at-home mom who spends her days chasing around the never-ending ball of energy that is her son. By night you can find her at her computer, drafting up her next great blog post about parenting with chronic illnesses. She is also an avid photographer and jewelry artisan. She is the founder of the Fibromyalgia support website, www.fibro.me, where Fibromyalgia patients can go to gain support, learn how to advocate for themselves, and spread awareness of this still relatively unheard of condition.

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