Body found in plane’s landing gear bay in Japan –

Tokyo, Japan (CNN) — A body was found in the landing gear bay of an airplane that arrived at Tokyo's Narita Airport Sunday, the airport announced.

The dead man was not carrying a passport or personal belongings, airport police said.

via Body found in plane’s landing gear bay in Japan –

JFK to Narita.  Someone was able not just to approach this aricraft without appropriate ID, but was able to climb into the landing gear bay (under the wing structure, next to the fuel tanks) and hide there.

FWIW, stowing away in a wheel well is a bad way to die.  If you’re not crushed to death by the landing gear coming up (it’s hydraulic, powered to lift a couple of tons against high airspeeds, there’s not any ‘extra’ room in the wheel well*), there’s not enough oxygen to survive at cruising altitude, even if it were heated, which it’s not.  So, don’t try it.

Now, substitute the word bomb for body.  Someones’ security isn’t good enough.  By far.

*Dad was an airline mechanic; back in the Good Old Days, kids could go to work with their dads and watch their dads work on them (and occasionally I got to empty out ash trays and arrange seat belts).  I learned a lot from that.


  1. Fernando Colina says:

    This brings back memories from many years ago. From the Wikipedia entry for “Stowaway”:

    “On 4 June 1969, Armando Socarras Ramirez and Jorge Perez Blanco climbed into the right landing gear well of an Iberia DC-8, Flight 904 from Havana, Cuba to Madrid, Spain. Socarras survived the flight with severe shock and exposure. Initially it was though Perez fell from the aircraft during flight, either during a secondary retraction to clear a warning light or during landing preparation as Socarras indicated he spoke to Perez during some duration of the flight. Later he claimed that Perez attempted to climb into the left well, failed and believes Perez is in a Cuban prison.”

    It wasn’t impossible to survive, at least on a DC-8 jet. One had to be very, very desperate, though.

    The speculation at the time was that Armando knew all along that Jorge had failed to climb into the well, but was trying to misdirect the Cuban police.

    I wonder if either of them is still around.

  2. Aerospace Genius says:

    There is enough room for a carefully positioned person to fit in a 777 main gear well, but the first problem is finding a way to hang on with a 220 mph breeze blowing around by the time that the gear doors finally close. The next problem is exposure to 6 very hot tires slowly spinning down from the 180 mph liftoff speed. The tire heat keeps the gear wells nice and toasty while the air pressure falls to 19.5% of sea level during the 25 minute climb to 39,000 ft.

    Since a lot of people have come back from Mount Everest, it is clearly possible to survive brief exposure to that altitude. However, the physical conditioning that it takes to tolerate it is quite extensive and the rate of pressure loss while climbing a mountain is obviously very slow. I don’t even play a doctor on YouTube, but I’m guessing that decompression sickness is what did in the stowaway. 12.5 hours is more than enough time for the gear well temp to equalize with the -70°F temperature outside, so that’s the next most likely ending. It might have been a bit colder than that because the JFK-NRT flight path goes near the north pole.

  3. Glen in Texas says:

    Since he was found in the wheel well, I’d guess he was squished into position (sorry, a more elegant term does not occur to me right now) and frozen. My guess being that unsquished and limp, he would have fallen out when the wheels were lowered.

    Not good security, or a safe way to travel. It is puzzling in a way, as the US is not difficult to get out of. Japan likewise is not a hard place to gain entry as a tourist. I wonder if it he stowed away on the wrong aircraft?