Coroners have confirmed the body of a man found dead in the suburbs of London was almost certainly a stowaway hiding inside the landing gear of a British Airways flight from Angola.
The Guardian is reporting José Matada was either dead or nearly dead due to hypothermia and lack of oxygen when he fell out of a plane as it opened its undercarriage for descent into London Heathrow Airport last September. Matada, who is believed to have been seeking a better life in Europe, had a single pound coin in his pocket, as well as currency from Botswana. Also in his pocket was a sim card, which investigators used to identify him.
In case you are weighing your options, sneaking into the undercarriage of planes comes with a low survival rate. In fact, a recent BBC article noted that from 1947 until September 2012, there were 96 known stowaway attempts that resulted in 73 deaths.
[Photo credit: Flickr user David Reese]
A 20-year-old Romanian man is lucky to be alive after he was discovered hidden inside the rear wheel compartment of a jet arriving this week in London. The stowaway, who was apparently looking for work, braved low oxygen and outside air temperatures during the flight as low as 40 below zero. Upon his discovery at London’s Heathrow Airport, he was covered in bruises and showing signs of hypothermia, but thankfully still alive.
How exactly did a man manage to sneak inside a plane? And how did he make it through the experience? It turns out through a remarkable mix of luck, daring and stupidity. The man apparently climbed under a fence at Vienna’s Schwechat airport, hiding himself beneath a private jet that had been parked there since last week. He also lucked out with the flight plan – the plane had to fly at a lower-than-normal altitude to avoid bad weather, allowing the man to survive what would normally be a fatal combination of cold and lack of air.
UK authorities were surprised by the man’s unexpected arrival, though they declined to press charges. As Romania is part of the European Union, the “passenger” was technically allowed to visit on holiday. He was cautioned and freed with no further action. Frankly, this traveler is lucky to have survived the ordeal, let alone gotten off without legal action.
Next time you’re ready to complain about that horrible experience on your last flight, you might want to think again. Somebody out there has definitely had it much worse.
(Image: Flickr/Lili Vieira de Carvalho’s)
An Indian man working as an airplane cleaner in the Saudi city of Medina was feeling so homesick, that he locked himself in the bathroom of an Air India plane for a free trip back home.
The man was discovered 30 minutes into the flight, most likely when the flight attendants unlocked the bathroom door to allow passengers to relieve themselves. The 25 year old man was not carrying his passport, as the cleaning firm he was working for, had taken it away from him (most likely to prevent an incident like this).
Air India points out that there was no real reason for concern, as the man had to clear airport security before he could go to work. Once in India, he was arrested and booked under several sections of the passport law. It is very unlikely that they’ll send him back, since he is an Indian citizen. The procedure for getting the plane ready for passengers only involves an announcement asking ground crew to leave the aircraft, and not an actual check that they do so.
Baggage handlers at Dulles International airport got quite the shock when they noticed a arm sticking out from the bags in the hold of an Ethiopian Airways 767.
The arm belonged to a stowaway, who was naturally suffering from dehydration. For some reason, stowaways are often smart enough to get past airport security, but not smart enough to bring water on board.
The plane had arrived from Addis Ababa and made a stopover in Rome, so the man had been locked in the luggage hold for about 20 hours. He has been transported to a federal holding facility, and will be sent back to Ethiopia after being charged.
Officials were quick to point out that the man was not considered to be a terrorist threat.
Despite the large number of international flights arriving in the US every day, stowaway passengers are still fairly rare, and I’m sure the common misconception that the cargo hold is unpressurized helps scare a lot of would-be stowaways out of the idea. Of course, reading that stowaways are immediately sent back to their homeland also makes the whole idea of hiding in the cargo hold rather unappealing.