First, the facts. Back in September, a man fell from the sky in a London suburb. Make that the only fact. It’s the only rock-solid evidence out there. An updated story doesn’t have much new information.
I know what you’re thinking. A man (it’s always men) stowed away in the wheel well of a commercial jet. This is also how the authorities see it. The body was found about 10 miles from Heathrow beneath the airport’s flight path.
They’ve put out an electronic image of the deceased using facial imagery software. He’s dark skinned, mustachioed and heavily pixeled. Wore jeans, sneakers and a tattoo. He had Angolan currency in his pocket. The British authorities have linked the timing of the tragedy to an inbound aircraft from northern Africa.
You can only imagine what would drive a guy to hide in the landing-gear bay of a commercial jet on an international flight. I can’t imagine a pure and simple truth why. Someone knows. Why? Wouldn’t that be a story?
There was a similar incident last August at Heathrow. The body of presumably another stowaway, this one frozen to death, was found in the landing-gear bay of a BA flight that came in from Cape Town, South Africa.
Worldwide, there have been so may cases of aircraft stowaways (I refer you to paragraph 2 above and your own conclusion) that the FAA has a report in their database outlining the major hazards (in no particular order): crushed by landing gear at takeoff, hypoxia, hypothermia, falling as the landing-gear bay opens. But they also cite a couple examples of stowaways who’ve survived, which may be as strange as aliens from area 51 in Nevada.
The world record for a stowaway might belong to an Indian man who downgraded himself to a wheel well heading to London from New Delhi. Experts suggest hypoxia and hypothermia might have slowed his circulatory and pulmonary physiology enough to hang in there on some kind of default mode.
And there have been a few misguided adventurers at home airports. In 2010, 16-year-old American Delvonte Tisdale’s body was found beneath the flight path to BOS after he took off in the wheel well of a US Airways Boeing 737 from CLT.
Since 1947, the FAA is aware of 96 people around the world who stowed away in a wheel-well. Most flights have proved fatal, but some have made it.
Experts suggest ignorance of the level of risk plays a huge role in why men stowaway.