US teenager survives five-hour flight in wheel well

San Jose airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes: "We're very thankful he survived his journey"

A 16-year-old boy has survived an extraordinary journey hidden in the wheel well of a five-hour flight from California to Hawaii.

A spokesman for Hawaiian Airlines said airline staff noticed the boy after the plane landed on Sunday morning.

He was questioned by the FBI and given a medical screening and was said to be in a stable condition.

The boy is reported to have run away from home and jumped over a fence at San Jose airport to get to the plane.

Dangerous journey

  • Between 1947 and 2012, 96 wheel well stowaways are thought to have attempted to board 85 flights
  • 73 of those stowaways died and 23 survived
  • Youngest recorded survivor aged nine
  • One person is known to have survived cruising altitude of 39,000ft

Source: FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute

Authorities are reviewing whether to file criminal charges against the boy.

"Our primary concern now is for the well-being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived,'' a spokeswoman for Hawaiian Airlines said.

"Kid's lucky to be alive,'' FBI spokesman Tom Simon told the AP news agency.

Mr Simon said that when the flight landed in Maui, the teenager hopped down from the wheel well and started wandering around the airport grounds.

His only possession when he landed was a comb for his hair.

He survived a lack of oxygen and freezing temperatures as the plane climbed to 12,000m (39,000ft).

Mr Simon said the boy had been unconscious for most of the journey.

Since records began in 1947, about 100 wheel well stowaways are thought to have attempted to board flights, of whom around three-quarters died.

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