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Experts Say Hitching a Ride in an Airliner's Wheel Well Is Not a Good Idea

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes | about 6 months ago

2

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Hasani Gittens reports that as miraculous as it was that a 16-year-old California boy was able to hitch a ride from San Jose to Hawaii and survive, it isn't the first time a wheel-well stowaway has lived to tell about it. The FAA says that since 1947 there have been 105 people who have tried to surreptitiously travel in plane landing gear world-wide on 94 flights — with a survival rate of about 25 percent. But agency adds that the actual numbers are probably higher, as some survivors may have escaped unnoticed, and bodies could fall into the ocean undetected. Except for the occasional happy ending, hiding in the landing gear of a aircraft as it soars miles above the Earth is generally a losing proposition. According to an FAA/Wright State University study titled “Survival at High Altitudes: Wheel-Well Passengers,” at 20,000 feet the temperature experienced by a stowaway would be -13 F, at 30,000 it would be -45 in the wheel well — and at 40,000 feet, the mercury plunges to a deadly -85 F (PDF). "You’re dealing with an incredibly harsh environment,” says aviation and security expert Anthony Roman. “Temperatures can reach -50 F, and oxygen levels there are barely sustainable for life.” Even if a strong-bodied individual is lucky enough to stand the cold and the lack of oxygen, there’s still the issue of falling out of the plane. “It’s almost impossible not to get thrown out when the gear opens,” says Roman.

So how do the lucky one-in-four survive? The answer, surprisingly, is that a few factors of human physiology are at play: As the aircraft climbs, the body enters a state of hypoxia—that is, it lacks oxygen—and the person passes out. At the same time, the frigid temperatures cause a state of hypothermia, which preserves the nervous system. “It’s similar to a young kid who falls to the bottom of an icy lake,” says Roman. "and two hours later he survives, because he was so cold.""

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We need experts to tell us this? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | about 6 months ago | (#46809713)

Not a good idea. I'm glad you're here to tell us these things. Chewie! Take the Professor in back and plug him into the hyperdrive!

Re:We need experts to tell us this? (1)

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) | about 6 months ago | (#46811185)

Understatement is a form of speech or disclosure which contains an expression of less strength than what would be expected. This is not to be confused with euphemism, where a polite phrase is used in place of a harsher or more offensive expression.

Understatement is a staple of humor in English-speaking cultures, especially in British humor. For example, in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, a suburban dinner party is invaded by Death, who wears a long black cloak and carries a scythe. "Well," says one party guest, "that's cast rather a gloom over the evening, hasn't it?" In another scene, an Army officer has just lost his leg. When asked how he feels, he looks down at his bloody stump and responds, "Stings a bit."

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