List of wheel-well stowaway flights
This page lists known flights with stowaways, who for various reasons traveled inside the wheel well (landing gear compartment, also known as wheel bay) of an aircraft. In the United States alone, between 1947 and June 2015, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had recorded 113 such attempts on 101 flights either departing from or landing in the U.S. Of these 113 people, 86 (76%) died.
Wheel well stowaways face considerable danger during takeoff, cruise, and landing. Immediately after takeoff, the landing gear retracts into the wheel wells, potentially crushing the stowaway. During flight at altitudes above approximately 2,500 m (8,000 ft), hypothermia becomes a risk and reduced atmospheric pressure and partial pressure of oxygen may impair physiological processes. At all cruising altitudes of jet aircraft, the partial pressure of oxygen in a wheel well is below that required to support brain consciousness. At altitudes above 6,000 m (20,000 ft), stowaways may also develop decompression sickness and nitrogen gas embolism. Temperatures also decrease with altitude, and may drop as low as −63 °C (−81 °F). As the plane descends to lower altitudes, a gradual rewarming and reoxygenation occur; however, if the stowaway does not regain consciousness and mobility by the time the landing gear is lowered during final approach, or has already died, the body may fall from the aircraft. According to the FAA, it is likely that the number of stowaways is higher than records show due to bodies having fallen into the ocean.
|August 7, 1946||Bas Wie, 12||Kupang–Darwin||Douglas DC-3||Survived, naturalised in Australia in 1958 and married|
|August 5, 1947||Male, 30||Lisbon–Natal||Douglas DC-3||Survived|
|September 9, 1960||Daniel Melo, 16||Santa Maria-Bermuda||Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation||Survived, caught by LAV's ground team and deported. |
|September 28, 1966||Male, 17||Bogotá–Mexico City||Boeing 707||Survived at 34,000 ft|
|April 18, 1966||Unidentified man, about 24||Moscow–Paris||Sud Aviation Caravelle||Died|
|April 19, 1966||Unknown youth, 20/21||Orly–Morocco||Sud Aviation Caravelle||Died (froze)|
|June 4, 1969||Armando Socarras Ramírez, 17, Jorge Pérez Blanco, 16||Havana–Madrid
(Iberia Flight 904)
|Douglas DC-8||Socarras survived, Pérez died|
|July 26, 1969||Male, 17 and a second unknown||Havana–Madrid||Douglas DC-8||One survived, second fell to death|
|February 22, 1970||Keith Sapsford, 14||Sydney–Tokyo
(Japan Airlines flight)
|Douglas DC-8||Died (fell from 200 ft on takeoff). His fatal fall was inadvertently captured by amateur photographer John Gilpin and the photograph was published in Life magazine|
|June 21, 1970||Male, 13||Lyon–Abidjan||Douglas DC-8||Died (fell at Abidjan when landing gear lowered)|
|April 14, 1972||Male, 18||San Diego–New York City||Boeing 707||Died (froze)|
|March 23, 1975||Unknown youth||Bogotá–Miami||Boeing 707||Died (fell)|
|November 14, 1986||Male, 35||Panama–Miami||Boeing 707||Survived at 39,000 ft|
|February 19, 1990||Two men from Trinidad||Trinidad–Toronto||BWIA West Indies Airways Lockheed L1011||Both survived 5 hour flight|
|March 15, 1993||Shamsul Ramli, 17||Kuala Lumpur–Johannesburg
(Malaysia Airlines flight)
|Boeing 747||Died. Body found in the 747's wheel well at Johannesburg Airport on arrival.|
|June 4, 1993||Juan Carlos Guzmán-Betancourt, 17||Bogotá–Miami
(Arca Airline flight)
|Douglas DC-8||Survived at 35,000 ft, but frosted|
|August 4, 1993||Male, 19||Bogotá–New York City||Boeing 747||Died|
|1995||Unknown migrant worker||To Shanghai||Boeing 747||Died (froze and fell during landing at Pudong International Airport)|
|August 2, 1996||Two Mongolian boys, about 9 and 12||Ulan Bator–Kadena Air Base||U.S. Air Force Lockheed C-141B||12-year-old died declared dead after discovery. Other child died two days later.|
|October 14, 1996||Pardeep Saini, 22, Vijay Saini, 19||New Delhi–London||Boeing 747||Pardeep survived in the nose wheel well at 35,000 ft, Vijay died|
|March 22, 1997||Male, adolescent||Nairobi–London||Boeing 747||Died (crushed in nosewheel well)|
|1998||Trevor Jacobs, 30||Antigua–Trinidad||McDonnell Douglas MD-80||Died (Trevor Jacobs was wanted on several criminal charges, including kidnapping)|
|February 7, 1998||Unknown male||Baku–London
(British Airways Flight 2028)
|Boeing 767||Died, body discovered upon arrival at Gatwick Airport on February 8|
|July 28, 1998||Chinese male, 23||Shanghai–Tokyo||Boeing 747||Survived, but hospitalized in critical condition|
|September 14, 1998||Emilio Dominguez, 23||San Pedro Sula–Miami
(Iberia Flight 6130)
|McDonnell Douglas DC-9||Survived at 33,000 ft, traveled seeking work, but was returned to Honduras|
|July 28, 1999||Yaguine Koita and Fodé Tounkara, 14 and 13||Conakry–Brussels
(Sabena Flight 520)
|Airbus A330||Both died (froze)|
|August 4, 2000||Fidel Maruhi, 24||Papeete–Los Angeles–Paris
(Air France Flight 71)
|Boeing 747-400||Survived at 38,000 ft. Discovered during a refueling stopover in Los Angeles, Maruhi later told, that the main motive behind his travel to France was to "shake hands" with Zinedine Zidane.|
|June 2001||Mohammed Ayaz, 21||Muharraq–London||Boeing 777||Died (traveled to London due to job hardships in Pakistan and Bahrain)|
|August 7, 2001||Unknown male||London–New York City
(American Airlines Flight 131)
|Boeing 777||Died (fell from 1,500 ft on approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport)|
|September 2001||Mikhail Semenyaga, 24||Perm–Yekaterinburg–Frankfurt||Died|
|December 24, 2001||Alberto Rodriguez, 15, Maikel Almira, 16||Havana–London||Boeing 777||Both died (planned on hiding on a flight to Miami)|
|July 2002||Cameroonian male, 34||Rio de Janeiro–Paris
(Air France flight)
|December, 2002||Victor Alvarez Molina, 24||Havana–Montreal||McDonnell Douglas DC-10||Survived, received refugee status in Canada|
|December 5, 2002||Two boys, 12 and 14||Accra–London||McDonnell Douglas DC-10||Both died|
|January 11, 2003||Mariano Alexis Herrera-Ba, Punta Cana International Airport technician||Punta Cana–Toronto||Airbus A320||Died|
|January 23, 2003||Two unidentified men||Paris–Shanghai
(Air France Flight 112)
|Boeing 777||Both died (fell on approach to Pudong International Airport)|
|February 25, 2003||Unknown male||Mali or Gabon–Paris?||Died (fell near Paris)|
|March 25, 2003||Unknown male, 19||To Frankfurt||Died|
|December 24, 2003||Unknown male, about 25||Montego Bay–New York City||Died|
|December 30, 2003||Unknown male, 30s||Lagos–London–New York City
(British Airways Flight 117)
|Boeing 747||Died (body found upon arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport)|
|July 21, 2004||Unknown male, 20||Dominican Republic–Düsseldorf||Died (froze)|
|October 22, 2004||Unknown male, 20s||Miami–Detroit||Boeing 737||Died|
|November 11, 2004||Liang Kailong, 14, Su Qing, 13||Kunming–Chongqing||Airbus A320||Liang survived, Su died (fell shortly after takeoff)|
|November 16, 2004||Unknown||Mali–Paris||Died|
|November 30, 2004||Unknown male||Died (fell, body found in Louvain)|
|May 25, 2005||Unknown boy, about 10||Dunhuang–Lanzhou||Airbus A320||Died|
|June 7, 2005||Unidentified||Johannesburg–Dakar–New York City
(South African Airways Flight 203)
|Airbus A340||Died (crushed on approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport)|
|January 12, 2007||Male||Johannesburg–Dakar–Atlanta
(Delta Air Lines Flight 35)
|Boeing 767||Died (frozen and crushed)|
|January 15, 2007||Unidentified||Banjul–Dakar–Brussels||Airbus A330-300||Died|
|January 28, 2007||Samuel Peter Benjamin, 17||Singapore–Vancouver–Hong Kong–Cape Town–London–Los Angeles||Boeing 747||Died in the front wheel well, presumably after hitching the aircraft in his hometown Cape Town on January 22, body discovered in Los Angeles|
|July 19, 2007||Asian, 50s||Shanghai–San Francisco
(United Airlines flight)
|Boeing 747||Died (in the nose gear wheel well)|
|September 21, 2007||Andrey Shcherbakov, 15||Perm–Moscow||Boeing 737||Survived, but suffered severe frostbite|
|October 12, 2007||Osama R.M. Shublaq, Palestinian||Kuala Lumpur–Singapore
(Singapore Airlines Flight 119)
|October 21, 2007||Ilgar Ashumov, 15||Baku–Moscow||Died on approach to Domodedovo International Airport, body found 12 km from the airport|
|August 9, 2009||Filipp Yurchenko, 19||Irkutsk–Khabarovsk–Vladivostok
(Vladivostok Avia Flight 486)
|February 7, 2010||Unknown male||New York City–Narita
(Delta Air Lines Flight 59)
|February 18, 2010||Unknown Dominican male||Santo Domingo–Miami
|Boeing 767||Died (fell during takeoff)|
|March 2010||Okechukwu Okeke, Nigerian||Lagos to the United States
(Delta Air Lines flight)
|Boeing 777||Died in the nose wheel well|
|April 2010||Unknown African male||To Zürich||Died (fell after landing gear was lowered on approach to Zürich, body found in Weisslingen)|
|June 6, 2010||Romanian male, 20||Vienna–London||Boeing 747||Survived|
|July 9, 2010||Unknown male||Beirut–Riyadh
|September 19, 2010||Nigerian national||Johannesburg–Lagos
(Arik Air flight)
|November 2, 2010||Roman Sorokovikov, 16||Yerbogachen–Kirensk||Antonov An-24||Survived, but planned to reach Irkutsk|
|November 15, 2010||Delvonte Tisdale, 16||Charlotte–Boston
(US Airways Flight 1776)
|Boeing 737||Died (possible fatal injury inside wheel well from landing gear, fell on approach to Boston)|
|January 15, 2011||Qasim Siddique||Lahore–Dubai
|Died (fell shortly after takeoff)|
|July 13, 2011||Adonis Guerrero Barrios, 23||Havana–Madrid||Airbus A340||Died|
|July 26, 2012||Unidentified male||Cape Town–London
(British Airways flight)
|September 9, 2012||Jose Matada, 27||Luanda–London||Boeing 777||Died (fell)|
|October 26, 2012||Unidentified male||London–Lagos||Airbus A340-500||Died|
|April 8, 2013||Unidentified male||Yaoundé–Paris
|June 6, 2013||Georgian national, 22 (presumably)||Rimini–Moscow
|July 18, 2013||Hikmet Komur, 32||Istanbul–London
(British Airways Flight 675)
|Airbus A320||Died (froze), body found upon arrival at Heathrow Airport|
|July 25, 2013||Unknown male||Ouagadougou–Niamey–Paris
(Air France Flight 547)
|Airbus A330||Died (fell during landing in Niamey)|
|August 24, 2013||Daniel Ihekina, 13/14||Benin City–Lagos||Survived|
|January 5, 2014||Unknown||Mashhad–Medina (emergency landing due to landing gear failure)||Boeing 767-300ER||Died (body parts fell at an intersection in Mushrefa, Jeddah)|
|February 22, 2014||Chris Dikeh, Nigerian national||Dakar–Washington, D.C.||Airbus A340-300||Died|
|April 20, 2014||Yahya Abdi, Somali national, 16||San Jose–Kahului
(Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45)
|June 5, 2014||Male, 17||Sandefjord–Amsterdam
(KLM Cityhopper flight)
|July 27, 2014||Unknown male teenager||Mali (presumably)–Ramstein Air Base||Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules||Died|
|March 14, 2015||Unidentified male, 40s||Lagos–New York City
(Arik Air flight)
|Airbus A340-500||Died (the body was presumed to be in the wheel well from March 11, 2015 when the aircraft had its last flight from New York)|
|April 7, 2015||Mario Steven Ambarita, 21||Pekanbaru–Jakarta
(Garuda Indonesia Flight 177)
|June 19, 2015||Carlito Vale, Mozambican national, 28/29, and unidentified male, 24||Johannesburg–London
(British Airways Flight 54)
|Boeing 747-400||Vale died (fell during approach, body recovered from a roof in Richmond).|
The other survived with injuries and was hospitalized.
|September 12, 2015||Unidentified stowaway||Nairobi–Amsterdam
(Emirates SkyCargo flight)
|Boeing 777-200||Died, body discovered upon arrival at Schiphol Airport|
|January 11, 2016||Unidentified male||São Paulo–Paris
(Air France flight)
|Boeing 777||Died, body discovered during maintenance operations on the Boeing 777 at Orly Airport|
|February 14, 2016||Unidentified man||Munich–Durban
(Western Global Airlines flight)
|McDonnell Douglas MD-11||Died, body discovered during refuelling at Harare International Airport, Zimbabwe.|
|June 7, 2016||Unidentified male||Dakar–Brussels
(Brussels Airlines Flight 204)
|Airbus A330||Died, body discovered during regular maintenance at Brussels Airport|
|September 21, 2016||Unidentified African male||Nigeria–Jeddah
|Boeing 747||Died, body discovered in the rear wheel well during regular check at King Abdulaziz International Airport|
|November 30, 2016||Unidentified stowaway||Lagos–Johannesburg
(Arik Air flight)
|Airbus A330-200||Died, body discovered at the O. R. Tambo International Airport|
|August 12, 2017||Unidentified Dominican male||Santo Domingo–Miami
(American Airlines Flight 1026)
|Airbus A321||Survived, was returned to Dominican Republic|
|January 13, 2018||Unidentified male||Honolulu–Japan
(Delta Air Lines flight)
|Died, body fell on take-off.|
|February 11, 2018||Unidentified African man||Kinshasa–Ukunda
(Kenya Airways flight)
|Died, found after emergency landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport|
|February 26, 2018||Marco Vinicio PG, 17, and Luis Manuel Ch. P., 16||Guayaquil–New York
(LATAM Flight 1438)
|Boeing 767-300||Both died (bodies fell on take off)|
|August 2018||Unidentified male||Caracas–La Fría||Died (fell on takeoff from Simón Bolívar International Airport)|
|April 13, 2019||Unidentified male||Pointe-à-Pitre–Cayenne
(Air France Flight 600)
|Airbus A320||Survived. Homeless man found on the tarmac of the Félix Éboué Airport. The flight made a refuelling stop at Fort-de-France between Pointe-à-Pitre and Cayenne.|
|June 30, 2019||Paul Manyasi, 29 (identity disputed)||Nairobi–London
(Kenya Airways Flight 100)
|Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner||Died (froze during the flight and fell from the landing gear on approach to London Heathrow Airport. The body fell into a garden in Clapham, one metre away from a sunbathing resident). Following an investigation by Sky News it is believed that the man was 29-year old Paul Manyasi, an employee of Colnet, a cleaning company contracted by Kenya Airports Authority (KAA). Manyasi's family and friends were shown photographs of the stowaway's belongings alongside an E-FIT. They confirmed that the E-FIT did bear a resemblance to Manyasi, and recognised his belongings which included a backpack which had his nickname written on it. Despite this evidence, the findings from Sky News has been disputed by both the KAA and Colnet who both claimed that their records showed that Manyasi was never employed by Colnet, nor did his name appear on any airport staff registers.|
|September 30, 2019||Unidentified male||Conakry–Paris
(Royal Air Maroc Flight 526)
|Boeing 737-800||Died (froze to death midair).|
|January 7, 2020||Unidentified male||Abidjan–Paris
(Air France Flight 703)
|Boeing 777-300||Died (cause unknown; body found in plane's landing gear upon arrival at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport)|
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