Two teens have died after they fell from the landing gear of a plane while 1000 feet above the ground. Airport staff spotted three objects falling from the plane that was flying to New York from Ecuador. Concerned that it could be vital components of the aeroplane’s internal mechanisms, the staff put the airport on hold and raced to the location of the objects’ landing. However, upon arrival it turned out to be two teenagers, aged 17 and 16, and a suitcase they had packed full of clothes and $20 for when they arrived in New York. One of the teenagers was dead when staff arrived. The other was still alive and breathing but soon died afterwards because of injuries.
Two stowaway teens hid in a plane’s landing gear — and fell to their death during takeoff https://t.co/i7XtMIJmrV plane flying from Ecuador to New York— henry wilburn (@henrywilburn1) 28 February 2018
Officials say they believe the two teenagers may have been pushed out by the intrusive and dangerous mechanism that brings the plane’s landing gear up into the fuselage. Another possibility is that the two boys became afraid during the take off and decided to try and jump from the plane while it was still relatively low in the hope they would survive the fall.
Police have confirmed the two teenagers were not passengers but were stowaways and that they lived in a small town not far from the airport. The airline is currently cooperating fully with the police, and the airport had to be shut for 90 minutes because of the boys’ deaths. The plane in question also had to turn around and land back in Ecuador.
Aviation experts have come out to once again issue a warning against the practice of stowing away in the wheel compartment of an aeroplane. Not only are the mechanisms that raise and lower the wheels powerful and dangerous, but the area is not pressurised nor heated. The lack of oxygen and freezing temperatures pose a serious threat to life. It is not entirely uncommon for stowaways to die in the air and then fall out as the plane lowers the wheels to land upon its arrival.
In the UK a corpse was found on the roof of a shop near Heathrow. It took police a long time but they eventually realised it had fallen from the wheel compartment of a flight from Johannesburg and the man was a stowaway. Another incident in 2016 saw an alive and well Dominican man discovered in the wheel compartment of a flight to Miami, but was safely returned to the Dominican Republic.