Tuesday, June 11, 2013

69. Flight Beyond All Hope. Part 1. Dude's Originals.

Dude, Please Don't Try It.

From: henryblogwalker

Dear Carlos,

Dude, I’m writing this to ask you not to do what you are about to do. Maybe we‘ve never met. Maybe we are just Facebook friends. Yeah, I got to know you through the first comment you made to one of my posts in my blog HeyDude.  What was that post? Yeah, “Forgive Me Dude, If You Can”. Actually, I had to delete your comment. Something I never do. That’s how it all started.
Still, I am your buddy. Please listen to me. DON’T DO IT. What you are trying to do is stupid.

Carlos checked his gear for the last time with his checklist. The thermos, the harness he rigged up with the old car seat belt, ear plugs, winter gloves,…

I once read in an old Reader’s Digest, under ‘Drama In real Life,’ about a boy who hid in the landing gear bay of a jet, with a friend and tried to fly out of the country. Was his name Miguel? I remember it had some Spanish ring to it, like yours.  The landing gear bay or the undercarriage compartment or wheel well or whatever you call it is neither heated nor pressurized. To make the matters worse, there is no oxygen supply. How they survived, beats me!

Another jet roared overhead climbing steeply into the gathering dusk and banking left. That is the Lufthansa flight to Munich. Carlos knew the flight schedule by heart, now.  He has been careful. Not only had he memorized flight schedules, he had studied the target area thoroughly for the past six months.

Then he heard the crunch of gravel under heavy military boots, as he was expecting.  The two guards with the AK47s were passing the spot he was hiding patrolling the airport perimeter. He lay flat on his belly, behind the bush.

I checked this on the internet because you said your mind was set on this weird idea of getting into the US as a wheel bay stowaway. What I found was amazing. This daredevil stunt is performed every now and then by various people, under the popular cover names, like, asylum seekers, refugees and fortune hunters in the west. The FAA counted 13 wheel well arrivals in the United States in year 2000 and three survives. The next year none of the six attempted the feat survived it.

Another departing Boeing 777 thundered down the runway with the powerful Rolls Royce engines roaring and whistling at the same time.  The jet lifted into the air emitting blue flames in the exhaust of the giant engines. Carlos watched with mixed feelings as the landing gear beginning to fold up into the wheel bay immediately after the aircraft was airborne.  The compartment door closed over them smoothly. Carlos felt butterflies in his stomach.

Dude, like I said, when I checked on the net, the records went all the way back to 1947. Since then, 96 people have tried hiding in the wheel wells of 85 flights and 73 of them didn’t make it. Only 23 survived the ordeal. And, the youngest was only nine years old.  Just one person survived the cruising altitude of 39,000ft. The survival rate of a wheel well passenger is merely 20.3, dude. This may not be accurate as the ones who could have fallen off the aircraft into water or remote areas and were not even recovered, could be not included in the survey.

Carlos peeped for any sign of the security guard and seeing that the coast was clear, sprinted along the hedge towards the end of the runway. He was careful to dart from bush to bush. His heavily padded winter boots with thick rubber soles made no noise on the grass.

The higher the altitude and longer the flight time, fewer the odds of survival in a unpressurized unheated wheel well of an aircraft.

As the temperature could drop as low as -45˚C, most of the stowaways who are not equipped for this, could get frozen to death.

On top of that, they suffer from asphyxiation as higher the altitudes the oxygen level is too low to survive and low pressure makes it difficult for the lungs to work normally.

Due to oxygen deprivation and freezing temperatures, the wheel well passengers are most likely to blackout. And, on arrival in preparation for landing, when the wheels bay covers open and landing gear is  deployed approximately at 1500 feet,  the unconscious passengers face the danger of tumbling off the wheel well and plunging towards the earth, to their inevitable death. Those who were lucky enough to be conscious at that crucial moment and managed to hold onto something inside the wheel bay with their frostbitten hands, had a chance of survival.

Do I sound like a teacher?

Carlos was out of breath when he finally arrived at the vantage point. He selected a leafy bush, crouched behind it, and slid his backpack off his shoulders. He was already sweating in the two jeans he was wearing one over the other and the two long sleeved sweatshirts. He decided to wear the thick leather jacket and the jeans at the last possible moment with the woolen padded leather gloves. Henryblogwalker’s email gave him that idea. And, the safety belt made out of the old car seat belt, he salvaged from the scrap yard should be worn over the jacket.

It’s not easy for a prospective wheel bay stowaway to slip through the airfield perimeter fence with all that tight security and get near aircraft unnoticed. But the airport security and specially the airside area movement control is not the same everywhere. So they get into position and wait to make a run for it immediately before the takeoff. I don’t know about yours, Carlos. Still, it is a mad scheme to try.

Carlos glanced at his cheap digital wristwatch. It should be here now. He watched the activity at the distant airport with his eyes narrowed a little to filter the glare from the airport terminal buildings and airport vehicles.  Is that the tow tractor pushing his airplane out of the ramp?  He strained his eyes to make sure that the plane actually started to taxi towards the runway under its own power.

It’s no wonder so many of them pay the air fare of traveling in the unheated, unpressurized, landing gear compartment with no oxygen supply,  with their lives.

The Boeing 777 taxied slowly towards the end of the runway where he was hiding. He opened the backpack and took the articles out. First he slipped on the leather jeans over the two denim jeans he was already wearing and zipped up the fly with some difficulty before he put on heavily padded leather jacket.  Then he put on the leather winter gloves. Finally, he passed the seat belt harness around his waist and snapped on the buckle. By the time he finished he was sweating. He  picked up the orange colored soft rubber ear plugs and rolled them  into thin wicks before inserting them deep into his ears.

The rumble of the Boeing 777’s powerful engines changed the note as it slowed up. It came to a halt at the holding position, only few meters away from where Carlos was hiding, waiting for the clearance from the control tower. It was now or never.

The stowaways usually hide nearby the end of the runway where the aircraft would taxi to, make a 180 degree turn and wait or the clearance from the control tower for takeoff. Or depending on the layout of the airport, wait in a storm drain near the holding position at the end of the taxiway   where  the aircraft would sit waiting for the clearance to takeoff before entering the runway. The stowaway would run and mount the landing gear and haul himself into the wheel compartment.

Carlos looked around. The coast was clear. As he was behind the tail of the aircraft, he could not see the heads of the pilots through the cockpit windows. He could not see any faces peeping at him through any one of the fuselage portholes. If I can’t see you, you can’t see me. It’s as simple as that. Something his dad had taught him. He sprang to his feet and raced towards the giant undercarriage. 

Part 2 is NOW just a CLICK  away. 

70. Flight Beyond All Hope. Part 2. Dude's Originals.

This is the blog post I took the longest to compose. If you just check the last countdown post I published as a prologue to this, you would understand what I mean. It was published on February 28th.  I started writing this even before that. Obviously, it took so much research as I wanted to be as accurate with facts as possible.

I also would like to thank my children  Hirusha and Hiruni, my wife Deepa and the fellow bloggers Senna and Chams who kept reminding me of this post ever since the countdown post was published.


    • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-32111/Cuban-stowaways-died-jet-soared.html#ixzz2J5vFW3af

    • http://en.wikipedia.org

    • http://www.boeing.com/boeing/commercial/777family/pf/pf_200product.page

    • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19562101

    • http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2003/12/do_jet_stowaways_ever_survive.html

    • http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2003/12/do_jet_stowaways_ever_survive.html


  1. OMG Dude.. now i'm confused.. do you really know someone call Carlos who did Stowaway like this ? or is this just a creation? If it is a creation, i can say it is an excellent job and a nice idea to write a blog post. If not you are in a trouble my dear friend Henryblogwalker. :D

    You have done the research work perfectly. this is the first time i heard about this type of Stowaways.

    Finally, once again this is an excellent blog post and kindly request you to translate and publish in the Denim as well.

    Many thanks Dude.

    1. No Senna, Just like I said in the post, when I was small I read in a Reader's Digest about a boy who did it.

      And the facts given here are true because I got the statistics from the internet.

      The facts about aircraft is from me because I normally have a fascination about aircraft as well as locomotives and automobiles.

      And don't forget that this is just the part one. There will be two more parts.

      Well, about that request, I'm working on it.

    2. that's understood dude. The part which confused me was "Yeah, I got to know you through the first comment you made to one of my posts in my blog HeyDude." I guess this is your imagination and creation in order to serve the cake nicely. :D

      Awaiting part two...

    3. Senna, there is half a truth in it. I normally, I said normally, don't delete people's comments. The post "Forgive me dude if you can" is a fiction. I didn't mention it was a fiction. And I was inspired by some events when I wrote that. I wrote that incident recently as a comment to Rayigam Handiya blog.

      So that writing was so convincing that one dude made a comment cursing me. I deleted that comment. But that incident is deep etched in my memory, I linked it here.

      Senna, why have you closed the comments of your new post?

    4. noted dude.. u brought it and linked here nicely....well done !

      :D Some funny thing happened Dude. so i deleted my last comment. pls check in your e-mail. thanks !

  2. Wow!!! Congrats Dude and thanks for the dedication.

  3. Nice post, looks like all those months of working on this paid off. Hope Carlos made it to the U.S and didn't end up becoming a permanent part of the landscape.:)

    1. Awesome comment, too. And thanks for all the encouragement you've given Razor. :-h

  4. An Article with full of knowledge. Thanks Dude. Now a days it is impossible to do this in almost all of the International Airports those have established close surveillance systems.

    අසමි දකිමි සොයමි ලියන විචාරක

    1. Thank you very much, Vicharaka.

      According to the reports this happens even nowadays as the security is not of the same standard everywhere.

      Even I was amazed when I read the articles about this. The following is just one.


  5. I felt what kind of effort and how many hours you have to paid for this blog post...I do really appreciate your effort and this kind of things might be enthusiasm others both blog writers and readers to do their things any further. This story was a fairy tale for me...i cant understand how could they sruvive under -43 celcius.

    Cheers my business partner...

    1. Sira, Thanks very much for reading and making the comment. Actually, some of these will definitely be lost in the translation.

      Please read the next two parts, too.

  6. What a story!!!! This is the very first time I'm reading about wheel well stowaway. I mean, it's suicidal like stepping in to a lion's den. It almost looks like an impossible task to survive in that high altitude with low temperature, pressure & oxygen. How he's gonna do it made me really curious.
    Hopefully this is not the end of story right? I'm waiting to read the next episode(with my belts fastened).
    The way of writing is also amazing Dude; completely deviating from the normal style of writing. For few seconds i wondered whether u really email Carlos .

    1. Really. Then it's good that I wrote about it. Yeah it IS suicidal, but some people are desperate enough to try it for various reasons.

      No this is not the end. Two more parts to go. Some medical facts too will be there. It's a good idea to fasten your seat belts. (Ah, that reminds me, you once wrote about seat belts and then someone stole it, right?)

      I'm really happy that you noted the writing style I employed in writing this. Thanks very much Thotiya.

  7. Nicely written Mr. Dude, your dedication towards writing this story is highly appreciated. After months of dedication, research and effort, ultimately the story has become really adventurous and curious. Further, it gives a vast knowledge about the topic.

    Eagerly waiting to read the rest. It will make me feel like traveling with Carlos in the wheel well.

    1. Hey, Nipuni, Just Dude. No mister please. :))

      Thank you very much for this nice comment. We never get bored of praise no matter how matured we are.

      Did you? Wow! Then my effort is rewarded.

  8. Oh My Goodness!!!! I am so dumbstruck! Is Carlos really going to do it? i really do hope not...I really hope he get caughts ...:O

    and the writing style is spectacular!!! never seen anything like it....please reserve all rights right away Dude... :D :D :D

    When is the rest coming???? I know it is too soon to ask but now we are so impatient!!!!

  9. I forgot to add animated comments.... d(


    1. We are so happy that you are back from the hospital. Now take it easy. You can catch up everything. I'm sue you understood that health is wealth during the past 7 days.

      Thank you very much for the nice comment. I knew you would love it. The rest is coming. I'm working on it in a little while.

      Take care. :-f

  10. Ok now what can I say? I am stunned. When I first read that countdown post of yours, I knew that this story is going to be something exceptional. But this,.. this is something totally unexpected. After reading this story I was so amazed with the hard work you have put into this. I applaud you for your commitment dude.[im]http://www.banglatorrents.com/images/smilies/btnew/btclaps.gif[/im]

    I can imagine the trouble you have taken to make this story as realistic as possible. And I have to say you have succeeded immensely in that endeavor. For me it was more like watching a movie rather than reading a blog post. And your writing style…it is simply superb dude. I think you have just found the ideal way to present this story g-)

    The story is truly awesome and I am sure that the parts to follow will be remarkable as well, but that will not surprise me anymore because the author of the story is....“Henry the blogwalker” :))

    1. Thanks for this very encouraging comment Chams.

      I love to try out new methods in blogging. I'm so glad that you like them.

      I try my best not to disappoint you in the next two parts, too. :)

  11. It’s too realistic and it made me believe that there was such attempt made with your knowledge. Man.. I then thought you will be arrested for publishing this much of detailed post because it may encourage someone who might frustrates in our place to attempt such a thing. All through the story I was thinking my flight at Katunayaka last time where I saw an Indian Airline Boing came to a halt near the runway for about 15 odd minutes and my imagination is going wild as I imagine Carlos is hiding in the storm drain nearby. Actually at Katunayaka, there is a storm drain and an environment which is exactly suited for this story..

    1. Oh, thanks Alex. I made the dude a South American so that I wouldn't have to face such allegations. And I don't think anyone who reads all three parts of this story will ever try it.. This is based on a series of true incidents and these details except the statistics and medical conditions are just my wild imagination. Even I can't say exactly where the imagination ends and the facts begin when describing what Carlos is experiencing, ha ha. :))

  12. "...Since then, 96 people have tried hiding in the wheel wells of 85 flights and 73 of them didn’t make it..."

    Well Carlos...

    So you already know 73 ways that you shouldn't try it... Its quite a number isn't it..? :) If we do the math, (73/96) 100 = 76% ... So There is a 76% chance that you WONT FAIL... :) Cos you are not gonna repeat the mistakes they did :D

    Let’s do it buddy..!

    P.S. Dude, - Eagerly waiting for the rest of the story :)

    1. You seem to be a Math dude.

      I'm sorry for the delay in replying this, Beetle. By this time you would have read the part 2 also.

      Thank you very much, Beetle.

  13. Wow! I am impressed! what dedication must you have to write a post spending 6 months. I think before writing a technical post like this you have to make sure that nothing goes wrong. that is why you have referred so many resources on the net.Well your commitment is paid off at last. See the number of comments you have got. I am envious of you Dude. Changing the writing styles and article types you have been able to create a huge fan base. Congratulations.
    Your article matches with the writing style in 'Reader's Digest. Creating the scene before us you take us inside an aircraft explaining highly technical details at the same time something which I couldn't understand properly even after reading the sinhla post. It's very clever of you to take a fact and present as a story, breaking the monotony of pure technical details. Well done and good luck with your writing.

    1. Thank you very much for the comment Blue Lotus (Nil Manel).
      It's very encouraging. :)

  14. I never read that much English novels but this is a great story without a doubt.i'm fascinated by this story and i ask myself, is it possible?? but with the statistics it may seem impossible but you have given the safety options to try it without any fear...

    i thought this is a realistic version until read the senna's comment.you have a great writing skill as i'm saying every time i read your blog...

    i read the sinhala version after reading this.this is tasty than the sinhala one... another two to go...

    now i know what i missed for last 6 months or so

    keep it up dude well done

  15. Thank you very much, Gamiyaa. But I didn't give him safety options. I just stated the facts and he did things to overcome the problems using the facts I gave him. So don't think for a moment I encouraged the dude. And Thisara has said this nicely in his comment to the final Sinhala episode in මගේ ඩෙනිම.

    Thank you very much Gamiyaa.

  16. Felt as if I was travelling in the landing gear bay ...

    breath taking ....

    1. Thanks Sachith. I wanted the reader to feel that way.



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