Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Teenage stowaway who survived flight to Hawaii in plane's wheel well 'was trying to get to Africa to visit his mother'

15-year-old boy broke into plane after argument at his home in California

The teenage stowaway who defied seemingly impossible odds and survived a five-hour flight from California to Hawaii hidden in the wheel well of an plane was trying to see his mother in Africa, a spokesman from Hawaii police has said.

The 15-year-old boy, who can’t be named, told police that he had run away from home after an argument and had hidden in the plane in the hope that it would take him back to Somalia, the nation where his Mother lives.

The teenager who is currently recovering in hospital in Hawaii after an ordeal that saw him spend five hours in sub-zero conditions at an altitude of nearly 40,000 ft.

The boy, who had been living with his father in Santa Clara, climbed the fence of the of the San Jose airport in California during the early hours of Sunday morning, before sneaking in to the plane’s wheel well.

According to report, the stowaway who speaks English as a second language, could not read the writing on the plane and believed that the Boeing 747 was destined for Africa.

The boy then fell asleep on the plane and woke up an hour after the plane landed in Kahului Airport on the island of Maui.

Authorities first spotted the boy when he was found wandering around the airport’s runway in a dazed state and was struggling with his hearing. He was quickly taken to hospital and that was when police first heard about his incredible journey.  

Commenting on what had happened, a spokesman from the FBI said: “He literally just fell asleep on the plane overnight.”

The fact that the teenager survived the flight was against the odds.  

Of 105 people that are known to have stowed themselves away in a plane’s wheel well, only 25 have survived.

Social services in California have been alerted to the boys situation and are organising his return at the moment.