Stowaway entered airport 6 hours before Hawaii takeoff, source says

Authorities remain puzzled by how a teenager survived a 5-1/2-hour ride hiding in a jetliner’s wheel well.


WASHINGTON -- The teenager who hid inside the wheel well of a passenger jet bound for Hawaii entered the perimeter of Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport more than six hours before the plane took off, said a homeland security official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the incident.

An airport security camera recorded video of the 15-year-old jumping a perimeter fence at the airport just after 1 a.m. Sunday, the official said.

The Hawaiian Airlines flight he apparently boarded departed at 7:55 a.m. Even though it was not scheduled to take off for hours, Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 was on the tarmac in San Jose at 1 a.m. and was the plane parked nearest to where the boy jumped the fence, the official said.


There is video of the boy climbing out of the wheel well of Flight 45‎ in Maui, the official said. It is unclear if there are images of the boy climbing into the aircraft’s wheel well in San Jose.

After the incident, the unscathed appearance of the teen shocked aviation experts, prompting some skepticism about where in the plane he actually traveled.

The FBI and Hawaiian Airlines officials said they were convinced the teen had made the trip in the wheel well, which is not heated or pressurized like the airliner’s main cabin.

The teen was “resting comfortably” Tuesday at a local hospital, according to spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Human Services.

If the teen did manage to bypass security and get into the plane undetected, it’s troubling, aviation experts said.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he wanted more answers, adding that the incident “demonstrates vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.”


Transportation Security Administration officials said they planned to meet with law enforcement and airport authorities to review security after the incident, which experts noted could have been catastrophic had the stowaway been armed with explosives.

The TSA is responsible for screening passengers who board aircraft through the terminals. Local police and airport police are responsible for making sure intruders do not sneak into unauthorized areas of airports.

Twitter: @ByBrianBennett