Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by Woods on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:13PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the it-only-works-in-movies dept.

NBC reports that as miraculous as it was that a 16-year-old California boy was able to hitch a ride from San Jose to Hawaii and survive, it isn't the first time a wheel-well stowaway has lived to tell about it.

An article from NPR states:

The FAA says that since 1947 there have been 105 people who have tried to surreptitiously travel in plane landing gear world-wide on 94 flights with a survival rate of about 25 percent. But the agency adds that the actual numbers are probably higher, as some survivors may have escaped unnoticed, and bodies could fall into the ocean undetected. Except for the occasional happy ending, hiding in the landing gear of a aircraft as it soars miles above the Earth is generally a losing proposition.

According to a study titled "Survival at High Altitudes: Wheel-Well Passengers" (PDF) by FAA/Wright State University:

At 20,000 feet the temperature experienced by a stowaway would be -13 F, at 30,000 it would be -45 in the wheel well and at 40,000 feet, it can plunge to a deadly -85 F. "You're dealing with an incredibly harsh environment," says aviation and security expert Anthony Roman. "Temperatures can reach -50 F, and oxygen levels there are barely sustainable for life." Even if a strong-bodied individual is lucky enough to stand the cold and the lack of oxygen, there's still the issue of falling out of the plane. "It's almost impossible not to get thrown out when the gear opens," says Roman.

So how do the lucky one-in-four survive? The answer, surprisingly, is that a few factors of human physiology are at play: As the aircraft climbs, the body enters a state of hypoxia-that is, it lacks oxygen-and the person passes out. At the same time, the frigid temperatures cause a state of hypothermia, which preserves the nervous system. "It's similar to a young kid who falls to the bottom of an icy lake," says Roman "And two hours later he survives, because he was so cold."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:25PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:25PM (#35121)

    'Cause, you know, you just said it was almost impossible to avoid. And now they're basically hibernating...

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:27PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:27PM (#35123)

    40K is a bit high, exceeds the service ceiling for some big jetliners. 30K, yes, but you don't see many jetliners much above 40K. Especially considering the 25% survival rate, it would not surprise me to find more survivors on unusually low altitude flights (due to weather or winds or whatever)

    Also my grandfather's B-24 was unpressurized and they wore rather heavy coats (although they had O2) and they flew at rather high altitudes.

    I'm sure the temps terrify Miami residents, although no one died locally when we were at -20F for days on end this winter. With windchill it was much worse like the -50s to -60s and you have to start being careful around those temps but its obviously no big deal and totally survivable with the correct gear.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by frojack on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:26PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:26PM (#35152) Journal

      We also don't know much about the actual temperature in wheel wells.

      Its probably no where near the outside temperature in modern airplanes, if for no other reason that air leakage is going to be from the inside of the pressurized plane, through any wiring holes, to the outside of the plane. Any such air leakage might also mitigate the pressure drop, and supply warmth and oxygen.

      Wheel wells on modern planes have a boat load of hydraulics running through them [airliners.net], some of this can be hot, especially of those pipes lead to the ailerons which are constantly in motion.

      The press is never going to give the true picture of life in a wheel well.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by isostatic on Wednesday April 23 2014, @11:06PM

      by isostatic (365) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @11:06PM (#35223) Journal

      Modern jets on mid-hauls (say 4 hours+) tend to operate in a 30k-42k service ceiling. I've certainly seen 40k+ on the IFE numerous times. A 757 service ceiling is 42k.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by MrGuy on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:34PM

    by MrGuy (1007) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:34PM (#35126)

    It's good we have experts to warn us not to do this.

    Because this is part of the grey area where us "normals" can't immediately tell "Hey, this is suicidally dangerous!"

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Woods on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:43PM

      by Woods (2726) <woods12@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:43PM (#35132) Journal

      Hey man, sometimes you just someone convince you that clamoring inside deadly machinery is dangerous.

      • (Score: 2) by Woods on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:45PM

        by Woods (2726) <woods12@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:45PM (#35134) Journal

        That was my best comment ever.... "You just need someone to convince you".

        Also, if as many people have tried it as they suggest, I wonder why there is so much extra space that allows for people. Why not make the cabin bigger?

        Note: I know nothing about planes. Those are the things that fly in the air and go fweoosh, right?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:17PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:17PM (#35147)

          And this is why I post anonymously. :)

        • (Score: 2) by starcraftsicko on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:19PM

          by starcraftsicko (2821) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:19PM (#35149) Journal

          Also, if as many people have tried it as they suggest, I wonder why there is so much extra space that allows for people.

          Dude was apparently a Somalian (or at least his mom was). Somalia is right next to Ethiopia. I looked it up and they're skinnier than the Auschwitz survivors [blogspot.com]. All that space probably wouldn't make much difference in the legroom department.

          Just sayin.

          --
          This post was created with recycled electrons.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24 2014, @07:25AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24 2014, @07:25AM (#35386)
            Probably should just sneak into some Texan's bag instead?
    • (Score: 2) by Boxzy on Thursday April 24 2014, @10:13PM

      by Boxzy (742) on Thursday April 24 2014, @10:13PM (#35815) Journal

      In other news, "Experts" also suggest sitting on the wings is not good for you, nor hanging onto the windscreen wipers.

      --
      Go green, Go Soylent.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by starcraftsicko on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:03PM

    by starcraftsicko (2821) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:03PM (#35141) Journal

    Am I the only one that feels that this story got too much coverage? Coverage leads to copycats leads to a 75% mortality rate (leads to anger leads to hatred leads to suffering...).

    With the business in the eastern Ukraine, it hasn't been that slow of a news week. What gives?

    --
    This post was created with recycled electrons.
    • (Score: 2) by iwoloschin on Wednesday April 23 2014, @11:07PM

      by iwoloschin (3863) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @11:07PM (#35224)

      It got coverage because it was sensational. A rare experience, usually fatal, resulting in a "happy" ending. Really though, I'm curious why he did it? Is his family situation that bad? Is he just being a teenager? Unfortunately, since he's a minor, I doubt we'll ever get the full story.

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Snow on Wednesday April 23 2014, @10:16PM

    by Snow (1601) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @10:16PM (#35170) Journal

    I'm a fan of the wheelwhell "luxory suite" - It has a lot going for it. Better leg room, fresher air, private restroom, priority unloading, etc. You also don't get nickeled and dimed (or more acurately $10 or $20 billed) for every drink or snack you might want. I have to admit that it's missing the inflight entertainment, but I find it's a lot easier to sleep. Don't knock it until you try it!

    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday April 24 2014, @03:11AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Thursday April 24 2014, @03:11AM (#35338) Homepage

      And best of all, you don't get irradiated or groped by the TSA!

      • (Score: 2) by WizardFusion on Thursday April 24 2014, @08:52AM

        by WizardFusion (498) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 24 2014, @08:52AM (#35414) Journal

        Where can I buy this upgrade.? I can't see it on the booking site.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24 2014, @11:19AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24 2014, @11:19AM (#35461)

          that's part of the perks included in the package.

          arrive when you please, park anywhere you like,

          and just hop on over to your soonest available flight.

          they book you for 'services' after.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @10:31PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @10:31PM (#35185)

    Good. It is.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24 2014, @11:08AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24 2014, @11:08AM (#35455)

      oh yeah. now i know what i'm doing next summer.