Aviation Experts Shocked by Teen’s Stow Away Story

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Local aviation experts say they are shocked that a Bay Area teen survived a flight to Hawaii – stowed away in a plane’s wheel well.

“This space in here is not heated. It’s not pressurized,” Sacramento City College Aviation Professor Scott Miller said of the inside of a wheel well.

At first, Miller said he didn’t believe the 16-year-old’s story.

“My first thought was, ‘No, he didn’t,’ because of the lack of pressure, lack of heat, I assumed he stowed away in the baggage compartment,” Miller said.

But then the FBI confirmed that the teen had been inside the wheel well.

“I think it’s single digits in terms of the percentages of people who have survived this sort of thing,” Miller said. “At the pressure and temperatures that would be encountered at that altitude on the way to Hawaii for that period of time would be unsurvivable.”

The altitude and temperature aren’t the only dangers in that space. The young man could have also been crushed by the wheel, or he could have fallen out.

San Jose, where the teen’s flight originated, plans no legal action against him.

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