As unlikely as it sounds, officials believe the boy rode in the tiny, cramped compartment for almost five hours, at altitudes that reached 38,000 feet, without oxygen and under subzero temperatures.That's one way to put it...
"It sounds really incredible," said aviation expert Jeff Wise. "Being in a wheel well is like all of a sudden being on top of Mount Everest."
Between the oxygen depletion and the cold, life expectancy "is measured in minutes," Wise said.
But some people have survived. Since 1947, 105 people are known to have attempted to fly inside wheel wells on 94 flights worldwide, the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute says. Of those, 25 made it through, including a 9-year-old child -- a survival rate of 24%. One of the flights went as high as 39,000 feet.
The conditions can put stowaways in a virtual "hibernative" state, the FAA says.
Someone could slip into unconsciousness so that the body cools and "the central nervous system is preserved," said CNN aviation expert Michael Kay. Also, he said, "there could be a situation where inside the bay is warmer than the external air temperature and you wouldn't get the instantaneous freezing of the skin."
Still, "for somebody to survive multiple hours with that lack of oxygen and that cold is just miraculous," airline analyst Peter Forman told CNN affiliate KHON in Honolulu.
Monday, April 21, 2014
Wheel In The Sky
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