Despite spending an estimated $57 billion on airport security improvements since 9/11 a 15-year old from Santa Clara manages to walk on the tarmac at San Jose Airport and stowaway in a planes wheel-well. The fact that anyone would try something so insane amazes me and that he got away with it is even more amazing. The 15-year old it turns out was a refugee from Somalia and wanted to get back home to see his mother. Good intentions but a bad choice on mode of transportation. The wheel-well? Really? My first thought is that when the landing gear went up after take off you would get squished by the incoming wheel and gear. I guess not. The teen spent more than 6-hours on the ground before the flight took off and then another 5 1/2 hours in the air on his trip to Maui, Hawaii. He actually didn’t even know where the plane was headed, but he knew it was going somewhere. The wheel-well is not pressurized and there is no oxygen equipment. The outside air temperature is minus 50-degrees…that is quite a bit to deal with, not to mention it being pitch black dark. I’m still baffled at his intentions and desperation to put yourself in such a life threatening situation, but he survived the ordeal. The boy told authorities that he lost consciousness when the plane took off on it’s 2,350 mile trip over the Pacific Ocean, which turns out that might have helped save his life. The extreme cold and lack of oxygen created a state similar to hibernation slowing down the heart and circulation making it possible to survive the extreme conditions. The kid regains consciousness upon decent and one hour after landing climbs out and walks across the tarmac in Hawaii in seemingly good shape. The story caught my attention immediately as it was one of the most bizarre stories I have seen or heard in a long time. I thought it was just an isolated incident that came out of the blue but as I read on it turns out since 1947, 105 people are known to have attempted to fly inside wheel wells on 94 flights worldwide. Of those, 25 survived, including a 9-year-old – a survival rate of just 24%. Did I miss out on a new trend like playing chicken with cars or laying down on the white line in the middle of the road? Those odds are even bad for Vegas. But my question is what goes through one’s mind to even attempt such a plight. My guess is not much. The fact that he so easily walked up to a plane on the runway and climbed aboard without being noticed just confirms my theory that no matter the security, if someone wants to get access to a plane, it can be done. This person could have been carrying anything on him when he tucked away. Someone in security at the San Jose Airport must have been grilled with a lot of questions after this incident, if that person still has a job. That is really a major snafu in airline security. While we’re taking off our belts and shoes someone is leisurely walking right up to the plane and hiding in the wheel well. Fortunately the teenager had no bad intentions and security experts said they expected the incident to prompt airport security reviews across the nation. My theory is that it was human error which is usually the reason. Perhaps someone took their eyes off security cameras or fell asleep at the wheel. The story stole my attention last week , but thanks to LA Clipper owner Donald Sterling and his racist remarks, I’ve got something new this week to ponder.


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