Man's Body Found In Wheel Well Of Airplane
SAN FRANCISCO, Jul. 19, 2007 (KGO) (KGO) -- An airline passenger landing in San Francisco from China did not survive the trip because he wasn't in the cabin like everyone else
United flight 858 pulled into the gate after an eleven hour flight from Shanghai. 314 tired travelers got off. The 315th passenger did not.
Mike McCarron, SFO Spokesman: "A mechanic discovered what appears to be a male body inside the nose gear wheel well of a Boeing 747 aircraft."
The stowaway, probably a Chinese national, tragically did not understand the physics of a plane in flight.
"The wheel wells of a plane are not pressurized like the cabin is. As a result, you'd feel the effects of hypoxia or a lack of oxygen at 35 to 40,000 feet," said McCarron.
If that didn't kill him, the minus 30 to 40 degree temperatures probably would have. The stowaway likely thought he could make the journey, since the wheel well of a jetliner is deceptively large.
ABC7 aviation analyst Ron Wilson says when the wheels retract, the space becomes so tight, you can be crushed.
Ron Wilson, ABC7 Aviation Analyst: "They don't really realize all the hydraulics and the struts and all the mechanics that put that landing gear up, including the tires."
Six years ago, a dead stowaway was also found in the wheel well of a plane that arrived at SFO from London's Gatwick Airport. He was identified as the son of a Zairian general. In 2000, a stowaway on a flight from Tahiti to Los Angeles survived, and when found, his body temperature was 79 degrees.
Wilson says airlines should be concerned about the lack of security at some foreign airports.
"It's the weakest link in the chain syndrome where weak security at a foreign airport will show up at your doorstep at one time or another."
Ultimately, if stowaways can get inside a wheel well, terrorists potentially could as well.
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