16 Year-Old Stowaway Survives 5-Hour Flight In Plane's Wheel Well

A 16 year-old boy from Santa Clara, California was found without identification wandering around on the tarmac at Maui's Kahului Airport on Sunday. He was lucky to be alive, as he had just survived a five-hour flight in the wheel well of a Boeing 767-300 which had flown from San Jose, California to Maui.

The boy had hopped a fence at San Jose's Norman Y. Mineta International Airport early Sunday, and somehow managed to climb into the wheel well of a commercial jet at an airport supposedly under high security surveillance. He survived prolonged exposure to temperatures far below zero while at cruising altitude of 38,000 feet.

Hawaiian Airlines flight 45 had landed in Maui at 10:25AM and the boy was found "dazed and confused" by Hawaiian Airlines employees about an hour later. He was turned over to local authorities and cooperative. Airline spokeswomen Allison Croyle said:

"Our primary concern now is for the well-being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived."

FBI spokesman Tom Simon told The Maui News the boy had run away from home following an argument.

"Kid's lucky to be alive. He was unconscious for the lion's share of the flight. Doesn't even remember the flight. It's amazing he survived that."

Simon said the boy was not charged with a crime, and was released to child protective services. Many questions remain — the biggest being how he was able to sneak onto airport property and onto a plane in San Jose completely undetected. His identity has not been released.

Top photo: Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767-300 by AeroIcarus on Flickr, licensed for Creative Commons commercial use.