A stowaway from Guatemala made it to Miami hidden on an American Airlines flight, according to The Guardian.
Concealed in the landing gear compartment of the plane, the man went undetected for the duration of the flight, which usually takes about 2 1/2 hours. Upon landing, he was apprehended and handed over to U.S. immigration officials, after which he was taken to a hospital for evaluation.
A video captured at the airport showed the stowaway sitting on the tarmac next to the plane as ground crew employees tended to him and offered him water. He appeared dazed but unharmed. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency later confirmed the incident.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Miami International Airport apprehended a 26-year-old man who attempted to evade detection in the landing gear compartment of an aircraft arriving from Guatemala Saturday morning,” the CBP said in a statement.
“The individual was evaluated by emergency medical services and taken to a hospital for medical assessment. This incident remains under investigation.”
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) declined to comment on the incident. According to the agency, since 1947, around 129 people have attempted to stow away on various commercial flights across the globe. Of those people, 100 have died of injuries or exposure.
Wayne Ziskal, a former pilot for American Airlines, says he once had someone stow away on one of his flights. According to Ziskal, temperatures in the air reach beyond freezing, which is just one of the many reasons stowing away in unprotected areas of the plane is dangerous.
“People lose consciousness because of lack of oxygen or hypothermia or any of those things,” Ziskal told NBC Miami, “and when the gear comes back down, they fall out, they’re not wedged in properly, or don’t hold on to something properly, and they fall out of the airplane to their death usually. It’s a very tragic thing.”
Most of the people who stow away on flights to the U.S. are attempting to flee poverty and violence in their home countries. Just over the past year alone, around 1.7 million migrants were detained or deported from the U.S., many of them Central Americans.