Oliver Smith, The Daily Telegraph, August 26, 2013
An investigation has been launched after a teenager managed to hide in the undercarriage of an aeroplane on a flight to Lagos.
Daniel Ihekina was able to evade security at Benin City Airport, and survived the 45-minute Arik Air flight to the Nigerian city on Saturday, despite the plane reaching an altitude of 21,000 feet.
A spokesman for the airline said passengers alerted staff upon landing when the stowaway was spotted emerging from a wheel cavity. He was later arrested and questioned by police.
"We have launched an investigation into the incident. This is a clear case of security breach," Yakubu Dati, a spokesman for The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), told AFP.
He said that Arik Air should be blamed for the incident, because it had failed to act after the boy was sighted on the tarmac at Benin City.
But Arik Air blamed security at Benin. “We are worried by the incessant security lapses at our airports,” said a spokesman. “We are appealing to the management of FAAN to immediately address the problem.”
It is thought the teenager was able to survive due to the short length of the flight, which meant the plane's maximum altitude was 21,000 feet.
Other stowaways have not been so lucky. In September last year, Jose Matada, 26, from Mozambique died after falling from a Heathrow-bound flight from Angola. His body was found on the pavement of Portman Avenue in Mortlake, south-west London.
And in August 2012 the body of a man was discovered in the landing gear bay of a British Airways Boeing 747 after a 6,000-mile (9,656km) flight from Cape Town to Heathrow.
Other famous instances of aircraft stowaways
The first stowaway
19-year-old American Clarence Terhune became perhaps the first aviation stowaway in 1928 after he hid himself on board the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin airship, flying from the US to Germany. He was soon discovered, but was embraced by Germany. The Pittsburgh Press reported that “the daring of the boy’s feat thrilled the Germans and gave them a good chuckle”. He was even offered a job at a department store in Aachen while the airship was still flying over the Atlantic.
Vienna to London inside the landing gear
In June 2010, a 20-year-old Romanian man survived temperatures of -41C inside the landing gear of a Boeing 747 on a 97-minute flight from Vienna to Heathrow. He slipped under a perimeter fence at Vienna Airport before climbing into a wheel compartment on board the empty privately-owned aircraft. A police source said the plane would normally have flown at 37,000ft, but due to thunderstorms it stayed at an altitude of 25,000ft, just low enough for the man to survive.
The man with 11 boarding passes
A Nigerian man was able to board a Virgin Atlantic flight from New York to Los Angeles last year using an out-of-date boarding pass. Olajide Olwaseun Noibi was eventually taken into custody in LA after attempting to board a second flight using the same invalid boarding pass. Police found a further ten boarding passes in his possession, none of which bore his real name.
The crafty cleaner
In 2009, Habib Hussain, a 25-year-old member of staff at Medina Airport in Saudi Arabia, boarded a aircraft bound for Jaipur, India, on the pretence of cleaning it. He hid in the loo, and was only discovered after take off when another passenger attempted to use the facilities.
Escape to Paris
Roberto Viza Egües managed to flee Cuba on August 12, 2000, after hiding in an Air France cargo container at Havana Airport. He arrived in Paris the following day, suffering from exposure, but otherwise unharmed. His application for asylum was denied and his was eventually deported back to Cuba.
A day in Rome
In July 2012, 11-year-old Liam Corcoran was able to board a Jet2.com flight from Manchester to Rome, despite being on his own, and without a passport or ticket. He had wandered to the airport from his home, three miles away, and evaded five security checks.