Stowaway flies from South Africa to Amsterdam inside plane wheel

·2 min read
Man stowed away on Cargolux plane (Flickr/Christian Junker)
Man stowed away on Cargolux plane (Flickr/Christian Junker)

A stowaway managed to survive the 11-hour journey from South Africa to the Netherlands while hiding inside the wheel of a cargo plane.

The unidentified man was discovered by Dutch authorities when the aircraft touched down in Amsterdam at Schiphol Airport on 23 January.

Believed to be between 16 and 35 years old, the man was discovered alive after the harrowing journey but with a low body temperature.

“We learned that a person was found having stowed away on a cargo plane at the airport's cargo platform this morning,” a Schiphol Airport spokesperson told CNN.

Ground crew notified the authorities as soon as the plane, operated by Cargolux, had landed and they spotted something that looked like a person in the nose wheel.

The emergency services were called to the scene and the Dutch Royal Military Police have now taken charge of the situation.

“We were surprised upon finding this man but even more surprised at him being alive after the plane flew over 10,000km in very, very cold temperatures,” said a Royal Dutch Military Police spokesperson.

“When the man has recovered and cleared by the hospital, he will then be processed at the Asylum Seekers Centre (AZC) where his status will be determined if he indeed is looking for asylum.”

After medical staff had stabilised the man at Schiphol Airport, he was transported to a hospital in Amsterdam.

It’s not the time a traveller has stowed away on an aircraft.

In February 2021, a Kenyan teenager survived a flight from London to Maastricht after climbing into the landing-gear bay area of the fuselage.

The 16-year-old boy was found after the cargo jet landed in the Netherlands.

A spokesperson for Maastricht Aachen Airport said at the time: “He had tremendous luck to get through this.”

The spokesperson told the NetherlandsNewsLive website that temperatures within the landing gear bay of the Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 would have fallen to minus 30C, adding: “Stowaways on airplanes are rare, and most people sadly don’t survive the journey.”

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