What Happens When You Hide in the Landing Gear of a Plane

What Happens When You Hide in the Landing Gear of a Plane


It’s raining men, hallelujah, it’s raining
men, amen. So goes the famous 1982 hit by The Weather
Girls, It’s Raining Men. Yet for a woman in London on the 30th of June
of this year, it was literally raining men- or rather a single man, who fell to his death
and landed in the garden of a London suburbanite. The woman had been calmly sunbathing when
suddenly the body of a man landed with a crash just one meter away. Upon investigation a bag, some water, and
other personal effects were discovered and it was believed that the man had stowed away
in the landing gear of a Kenya Airways flight inbound to Heathrow Airport. Astonishingly, this was not the first time
that such an incident has occurred, and people falling to their deaths from the landing gear
wells of aircraft is a not-so-uncommon occurrence throughout history. On February 22nd, 1970, a 14 year old boy
fell to his death just shortly after take off after attempting to stow away in the landing
well of a Douglas DC-8 flying from Sydney to Tokyo. An amateur photographer astonishingly happened
to capture the event just as it happened and the boy began his fall International flights are notoriously expensive-
at least those outside of Europe were budget airlines such as RyanAir let you literally
take your life into your own hands for the cheap cost of an average taxi fare. Yet despite the dangers, many people routinely
attempt to stow away aboard an aircraft, and while most attempt to gain access to the cargo
compartments or even inside the aircraft itself in lavatories or maintenance areas, more desperate
souls routinely attempt to stow away inside the wheel well of the aircraft. Of 113 verified attempts to stow away in the
wheel well of an aircraft between 1947 and 2015, 86 of these people died, giving would-be
stowaways a dismal success rate of 24%. These incidents are rarely investigated, but
it’s believed that most of these stowaways died from being crushed by the actual landing
wheels. In most aircraft, there’s very little room
left after the massive wheels are retracted, and to make matters worse there’s no light
inside the well itself. As the wheels start to move upwards, it can
be difficult to understand how the legs connected to the wheels will fold up into themselves,
and this can be fatal. Consider it a particularly difficult game
of Twister, only instead of embarrassing yourself in front of friends, your life is at stake. Putting an arm or a leg in the wrong place
can lead to it being mercilessly crushed by the metal legs of the wheels, or trying to
squeeze into what seems like a safe corner can lead to you being smashed to bits by the
giant rubber tires themselves. The whole time you’re also trying to not fall
out of an aircraft which is already moving well over one hundred and fifty miles an hour,
with hurricane force winds trying to pry you loose. Needless to say, it’s no easy task, and it
makes us respect the few who survived the ordeal all the more. The second leading cause of death appears
to be freezing to death, which should come as no surprise. The wheel wells are not climate controlled,
and are definitely not air tight. As the plane rises in altitude, the air gets
colder and colder until eventually the temperature can hit as low as -81 fahrenheit (-63 Celsius). Because stowaways are trying to squeeze into
a very tight place, they can’t afford to bring lots of warm clothing to put on and fight
the effects of the cold, and often are forced to simply huddle in the cold dark alone, trying
to warm themselves with their own body’s heat. To make matters worse, as the plane rises
in altitude, the air also gets thinner, which makes it even more difficult to breathe. The lack of oxygen can lead to hypoxia- or
the body not getting enough oxygen to survive. If you’ve watched our previous video on the
man who survived being frozen for twelve hours though, you’ll know that extremely cold temperatures
can actually work to help keep a person alive. The extreme cold will slow down the body’s
core processes, which in turn drastically reduces the amount of oxygen needed to survive,
thus the lack of air alone is usually not fatal. Another problem facing stowaways though is
the fact that the very low atmospheric pressure of high altitude flight is well below the
threshold needed to maintain consciousness. This means that stowaways will go unconscious
not long after their plane hits its cruising altitude. While again, this can help keep a person alive
in extreme cold and oxygen-deprived environments, the real problems of unconsciousness begin
when it’s time for the plane to land. As the plane descends to land, the wheel well
is warmed and atmospheric pressure is restored, which can begin to wake up an unconscious
stowaway. Yet if the stowaway isn’t fully alert by the
time that the plane comes in for final approach, typically only taking a few minutes from initial
descent, then the landing gear will drop and the unconscious or semi-conscious stowaway
will plummet to their death. Even if the stowaway manages to not be crushed
to death as the wheels retract, and then endures freezing cold temperatures for hours at a
time, and manages to regain consciousness right before the plane lands, there’s two
more major problems to overcome. The first is a condition common to deep sea
divers known as the bends. Because the wheel wells are not pressurized,
nitrogen gas bubbles begin to form in the bloodstream and the fluids inside the body’s
tissues. Normally to combat the bends, divers will
slowly bring themselves back to the surface, spending time at different depths to slowly
dissolve the nitrogen that has formed in their bodies. For a stowaway who’s jet is descending at
several thousand feet a minute, this isn’t an option. The nitrogen bubbles begin to burst all at
once, causing extreme pain and sometimes even being fatal. Next time you pop open a can of soda, imagine
that happening inside your body. The pain can be excruciating, and it makes
clinging on to wheels as the plane descends that much more difficult. Yet if the stowaway manages to avoid the bends,
then they also have the task of actually clinging on to the aircraft itself as it descends with
the wheels lowered. Airplane landings are basically nothing more
than controlled crashes, and because metal is heavy, it tends to fall out of the sky
at very high speeds. A commercial jet airliner typically comes
in for a landing at anywhere between 150 to 166 miles per hour (241 – 267 kph), which
is enough speed that the plane is still generating some lift with its wings and it can land relatively
smoothly, because after much research into the issue major airlines discovered that passengers
tend to dislike when their plane lands nose first into the ground. It also runs up operating costs as each flight
necessitates a brand new aircraft and aircrew both. For a stowaway clinging on for dear life,
this is equivalent to trying to hang on in the face of a category five hurricane, all
the while being jostled as the aircraft is buffeted by turbulence during final approach. Needless to say, some stowaways are unable
to keep a grip and fall to their death. Despite all the dangers though, people continue
to attempt to stowaway in the wheel wells of aircraft, as they are much easier to access
than the cargo compartments which are often locked up. One twelve year old child from Indonesia actually
survived a several hundred mile trip in the wheel well of a Douglas DC-3 aircraft way
back in 1946. Granted DC-3s had a flight ceiling of around
twenty thousand feet, so this particular stowaway didn’t have to deal with many of the dangers
that modern stowaways have to when flying at 39,000 or more feet. This twelve year old indonesian child would
go on to be naturalized in Australia and live out a happy life. Unfortunately, a Soviet teenage stowaway two
decades later would be crushed to death as he attempted to flee the Soviet Union in a
flight from Moscow to Paris. Another thirteen year old stowaway from France
died when the landing gear of his aircraft was lowered on final approach and he fell
to his death- like with so many who died this way it’s believed that he hadn’t fully regained
consciousness yet. A migrant worker in 1995 however froze to
death on a flight to Shanghai and his body fell when the plane was on final approach
to the airport, giving a rather rude surprise to whoever was directly below. Tragically in August of 1996, two young mongolian
boys, aged nine and twelve, both died after attempting to stowaway in the wheel well of
a US Air Force Lockheed C-141. The twelve year old was discovered crushed
to death by the service crew after the plane landed, and the nine year old would die of
his injuries two days later in a US military hospital. A similar story with a 50% happier ending
occurred later that same year when two Indian men stowed away on a flight from New Delhi
to London. One of them survived the ten hour flight in
the nose wheel at 35,000 feet, but his younger brother died when he froze to death. Tragically, the two brothers had paid an informant
for knowledge on how to access the baggage hold of a Boeing 747 from the wheel well,
but upon sneaking into the wheel well they discovered that there was no such access. Though the surviving brother applied for political
asylum after landing, he was denied and sent back to India on the first flight after leaving
hospital- presumably not in the wheel well this time. Another man from Burkina Faso failed to hold
on to his aircraft’s wheels as the plane came in for a landing and plummeted to his death
just before landing. Most disturbing of all though is the death
of an unknown stowaway who was crushed to death in the wheel well of a Boeing 767, and
actually caused a landing gear failure. The plane was forced to conduct an emergency
landing when the wheels wouldn’t fully retract, though unknown to the crew this was because
the stowaway’s mangled body was preventing them from doing so. Upon lowering the wheels for landing, body
parts fell on a busy traffic intersection in a town of Saudi Arabia. Not all stowaway attempts end tragically though,
and the world’s first aerial stowaway is credited to 19 year old Clarence Terhune, who in 1928
stowed away on a German zeppelin flying from New Jersey in the US to Friedrichshafen, Germany. He made a bet with his brother-in-law that
he could beat all previous stowaways by hitching an illegal ride aboard the German zeppelin,
and revealed himself to the crew aboard the Atlantic ocean. He was made to work in the kitchen for the
remainder of the flight and arrested after landing, though the German people considered
him something of a hero and sent him telegrams, dinner invitations, and even job offers. Terrifyingly, the American Federal Aviation
Administration openly admits that the full list of stowaways who die attempting to hide
in the wheel wells of an aircraft is unknown, and current estimates are incomplete. The FAA says that due to so many airports
being near the ocean, an unknown number of stowaways have surely fallen to their death
into the sea as their plane came in for a landing. This leaves the real number of people who
have died in the wheel wells of an aircraft unknown, though it’s clear that only extreme
desperation could possibly drive a man or woman to do such a thing. Next time you fly, consider that while you’re
enjoying the in-flight movie and a complimentary packet of peanuts, a stranger may be dying
just a few feet away in the wheel well of your aircraft. Would you ever risk stowing away in the wheel
well of an airplane? How would you survive? Let us know in the comments! And as always if you enjoyed this video don’t
forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe for more great content!

100 thoughts on “What Happens When You Hide in the Landing Gear of a Plane

  1. wouldn't the nitrogen bubbles be compressed and not be an issue?

    i mean the benz is problematic when nitrogen builds up and going up causes the gas to expand, so wouldn't the opposite happen if u were descending?

  2. Nobody is thinking why if untrained people can get in a landing gear why cant a terrorist just pointing something out we need more security or we need to question the gov.

  3. I remember reading the article mentioned at the beginning, it’s disturbing to look at the dent the guy made in the ground he landed on

  4. QUESTION: HOW is the air so hot on the surface of the earth where we walk? YET!?…..the higher you go the colder the air but you're CLOSER to the sun??🤔 I don't get it

  5. Bends? Are you sure? Nitrogen sure will generate like CO2 in soda BUT ONLY when the pressure decreases, so when aircraft climbs. Other thing is, pressure difference. 10m under water is 2atm, and every next 10m will add another one. 10km above sea, is not even 1atm difference. I doubt bends is a thing in that case.

  6. As a pilot, I can tell you that a lot of information in this video is very inaccurate. I don't have much time to explain but all the numbers especially takeoff or rotate speed and landing are incorrect as there is no average speed. Also you described a plane landing as a "controlled crash", well I don't know who you flew with but I don't think they're a pilot.

  7. Isnt it that planes are made of aluminium (thats how its said in another language) aluminium is made for airplanes its not heavy so it can be used to make airplanes.

  8. Jokes appart, this is a horrible way to die, crushed in a landing gear, suffering in the dark and cold for hours

    Btw i find it impressive how positive you are while talking about that

    And also, please add more ads, i feel like one per minute isn't enough

  9. According to these animations the plane is flying roughly twice as fast as a rocket. If they don't watch out the plane can get into orbit!

  10. “People falling from the landing gear isn’t a uncommon thing”

    Nobody:

    Florida man: are you challenging me? Again?

  11. Sorry, but as a diver, I can't remember ever hearing about getting decompression sickness(Bends) when the pressure increases? Correct me if I'm wrong but going from high altitude to low altitude means the pressure increase not decreases such as when a diver surfaces. Don't mean to rant but just want people to get the right info..

  12. I would become a super Sayian and use my feet for the landing gear….chuck Norris did this while sleeping after he walked away the front lander gear broke causing the plane to bow to him.

  13. Ok so all I need is a parachute. Oxygen tank. Military parka for the cold. And armor to prevent from being crushed. Got it.

  14. Me: Mom can we have a flight to Australia?

    Mom: We have a flight to Australia at home.

    Flight to Australia at home:

  15. That's not really how the bends or decompression sickness works though. You're still breathing normally, just at different altitudes. By this logic, and person climbing Everest would get decompression sickness. Also, even if you did get decompression sickness while stowing away, it definitely wouldn't happen on the way down.

  16. infographic show: tells every reason why no to go in wheel wells
    also infographic show: would you risk going into a wheel well?

  17. 7:11
    I'm not sure if this is a typo, but the text says 1955, but the narrator says it happened in 1995…which is it?

  18. We can't even see the passengers off at boarding cuz they wont let non passengers in… I don't think ferreting up under the plane itself would go unnoticed…hey, speaking of noticing, artificial overcast soup and 99__-^^99———LLlli -ii inn -ngggee -errr ii nnggg —————99^^^^^^^^^—- contrails created by airplanes is a common thing now. Sume PooePLe r fUNny to ThINk it'5 Aer0sol SPraY…^^^^^^^__________…—-

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