Officials are taking a hard look at augmenting airport security after a 16-year-old boy hitched a ride on a jumbo jet from San Jose to Maui on April 20, 2014, by sneaking in the landing gear wheel well of Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45. The teen apparently hopped an airport fence, ran to the plane and climbed into the wheel well. “Clearly there’s a big security breach here, which in the post 9/11 world order is a concern,” said aviation expert Michael Kay. Getting past all kinds of people without being detected is “a physical feat.”
The boy told authorities that he passed out shortly after the plane took off, and somehow survived being in a cramped compartment for five hours in subzero temperatures without oxygen. Roughly an hour after the plane landed at Kahului Airport in Maui, the boy regained consciousness and came down from the wheel well. He has since been placed in the custody of child welfare service workers in Hawaii. The city of San Jose, which operates the airport, will not seek legal action against the teen.
According to CNN, 105 people have attempted to fly inside the wheel wells on flights since 1947. Only 25 have survived.