Teen Who Survived 5-Hour Flight In Airplane’s Wheel Well Speaks Up: It Wasn’t Scary

Just strolling around after landing. (KPIX 5)

Just strolling around after landing. (KPIX 5)

The first thing that comes to mind when imagining soaring 40,000 feet in the air with nothing between you and death by super long fall/asphyxiation/hypothermia, is total and complete fear. But heck, the teenager who hitched a ride on a five-hour flight from San Jose to Maui inside a Hawaiian Airlines plane’s wheel well says he wasn’t even scared, even if his body did probably shut down into an almost cryogenic state.

Surviving an experience like this California teen did is a rare thing — about 23.7% of people have lived through similar experiences, reported the Los Angeles Times at the time, as there’s the risk of not only being improperly secured and falling out, but it can get to 50 below zero up there at cruising altitude, where oxygen is also pretty darn scarce.

One doctor explained that the kid probably froze, sort of, for a little bit, as “the need for oxygen declines as the body cools. It’s exactly like the concept of cryogenic freezing…. The boy’s body went into a frozen state.”

So again, pretty scary. But the Bay Area teenager just spoke out to the first time in a reported interview over Google Chat with KPIX 5, saying the experience was not scary. Again, NOT scary, though he can’t believe he survived. He just took the closest plane he could find that was going west, in an attempt to reach his mother at a refugee camp in Ethiopia.

“It was above the clouds, I could see through the little holes,” he said, adding that he covered his ears as the plane took off.

“I only did it because I didn’t want to live with my stepmom. Second of all, I wanted to find my mom. I haven’t seen her since I was young,” he explained.

Since then he’s been busy doing things besides hopping airport fences and stowing away on planes, like going to the movies and playing video games. And it sounds like he’s got a good head on his shoulders after the whole thing — saying other kids with the same idea shouldn’t copy him.

“They shouldn’t run away because sometimes they will end up dying,” he said.

Teen Stowaway Tells All About Surviving Journey From San Jose Airport To Hawaii In KPIX 5 Interview [KPIX 5]