NC teen stowaway breaches US airport security, hides in plane wheel well, dies, falls in Boston

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70 Responses to “NC teen stowaway breaches US airport security, hides in plane wheel well, dies, falls in Boston”

  1. abstract_reg says:

    Now, I know that most people are looking at this from the tragedy angle, and Xeni is trying her best to have us look at it from the security angle, but what I’m thinking is: What about the “get a really good parka and arctic rated sleeping bag and fly for free” angle? How cold could it get? Does one also need an oxygen tank? Could everything needed to survive such a journey fit on your back?

    • penguinchris says:

      Cost of gear necessary to survive in the wheel well: let’s say, $300 if you’re thrifty – good stuff isn’t cheap

      Cost of round trip ticket between NC and Boston: $200 maybe?

      Chances you’ll get away with it more than once, thus making it cost effective: slim to none

  2. Lady Katey says:

    Abstract, I’d go the Catch Me If You Can route before I’d stow away with survival gear…

  3. Jean-Luc Turbo says:

    It is a human tragedy that saddens me greatly and also a horrible spotlight on the inefficiency of the TSphuckingA.

    We are being $windled in this theatre of security–both in the floor show and the “work” that goes on behind the scenes.

  4. awjtawjt says:

    Poor kid. Sad. Feel bad for his parents, probably trying their best to raise a son who just wouldn’t stay put and listen.

  5. Mitch says:

    This happens so often that there should really be signs in the wheel wells warning people about the danger of traveling in there.

  6. dainel says:

    1. would it be safer to fly with the baggage? is THAT compartment heated and pressurized?

    2. the pic looks like that of a 40 year old cricket player from the west indies. He’s 16?

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Answers: 1. Don’t know.

      2. Apparently so.

      Q: Is “heated” really different from “irradiated”?

      I mean, is not the process of being heated, describable as being irradiated with infrared energy?

      I find it odd that to survive a commercial flight, one must be irradiated, heated and pressurized.

    • Sketch says:

      I know they fly animals in baggage on some flights, so at least some of it is. At least I hope so, for the sake of the dog barking nonstop under my feet during takeoff on one flight…I think it was barking during landing too, so I’m pretty sure it made it.

      It may depend on the plane though. I know that sometimes when i pick up my checked baggage, it is quite cold.

  7. gadgeteer says:

    We can sure how the TSA will react swiftly to be sure this won’t happen again … by banning wheel wells from all commercial flights

  8. Lobster says:

    Xeni, that isn’t the half of it. What if he had smallpox? His corpse could have been a biological bomb! What if he was the resurrection of Christ? Now he’s dead and we’re all doomed! What if he and he alone knew the cure for cancer? Now those secrets are lost forever!

    Or maybe he just played chicken with Darwin and lost.

  9. Anonymous says:

    If someone, or group, was determined to kill us we’d be dead.

    Mass murder really requires an institutional framework to legitimize murder, remove personal responsibility, and motivate professional cadres with promises of life-long compensation.

  10. Drew from Zhrodague says:

    Ugly Canuck, you left out wrapped in aluminum foil, and basted (drink). Good luck to those traveling!

  11. mdh says:

    Happened about 10 miles from me. A commercial pilot based at Logan that I know said to me, the day after this theory was first discussed – “That is where we’d be putting our gear down” Also, my girlfriend (a teacher) mentioned the note in his pocket is a hall pass.

  12. Anonymous says:

    He would have most likely frozen to death as soon as the plane made cruising altitude as wheel wells are not pressurized

  13. shawnhcorey says:

    You already know that the TSA only does placebo security. If it was rigorous, you would never loose a bag. If your baggage gets lost, that means that no-one knows what bag should be on what plane. All one has to do is smuggle a bag into an airport and the luggage-handling facilities will do the rest. In other words, airport security is just to abuse passengers so that they think they are safe. Placebo security.

  14. lectroid says:

    If you touch my landing gear, I’m gonna have you arrested.

  15. Trent Hawkins says:

    Damn that Fifth Element movie!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Wow! someone actually wrote a guide to riding in the wheel well.
    http://wiki.stealthiswiki.org/wiki/Airlines

  17. oasisob1 says:

    He had more leg room (and better service) than coach. (Too soon?)

  18. ackpht says:

    Even if you had gear to keep you warm and oxygenated at altitude, there’s probably very little wasted space in a wheel well, and chances are good that you’d be crushed by the gear.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Gaping Aiport Security Hole No. 1

    Man portable firearms and missiles can bring down a commercial airliner from ranges of several miles from the airport itself.

    If a goddamn BIRDSTRIKE can send a plane groundward, humanity can accomplish the same without significant trouble.

    ~D. Walker

  20. Mister44 says:

    This happens a couple times a year. Usually it is from some poorer country and some poor guy hides in the wheel well and freezes.

  21. Jack says:

    A commercial pilot based at Logan that I know said to me [...] my girlfriend (a teacher) mentioned the note in his pocket is a hall pass.

    Also a friend’s cousin has a Stormtrooper helmet. It’s true!

    Seriously, security in the U.S. is theater nowadays. Nothing less. Nothing more.

  22. donnyk says:

    that’s a shame. This seems to happen every so often where someone dies in the wheel well. If he had happened to read up on it he probably would not have tried this method of stowing away on a plane

    • Anonymous says:

      If he were smart enough to ” read up on it ” , he wouldn’t have even thought about the scheme in the first palce !

  23. Lady Katey says:

    Truly a bizarre and tragic story. I’ve heard lots of it because I live in Mass. When they first found the body they had no idea WHAT had happened. I assumed it was a murder from the initial reports, which described the body as ‘mutilated’ which to me implys that it was done purposefully. Then they started talking about this kid who was missing from NC and the note in the pocket… I still guessed he had been picked up hitchhiking by the ‘wrong’ person who had killed him… Then this plane theory cropped up. I guess the kid had run away from home a few times before.

    (Oh, my OTHER theory was alien abduction!)

  24. Anonymous says:

    if experience is any guide, TSA will now mandate wheel well inspections for arriving and departing aircraft.

  25. Church says:

    “What if this kid was a suicide bomber stowaway, strapped with explosives?”

    Oh gods. You can say that about anything.

    • Xeni Jardin says:

      No. The point is, we’re all suffering through unprecedented invasion of privacy and personal rights at airports, in the name of tight security. So, all the groping and scanning didn’t harden the target enough to prevent what could have been a plausible threat scenario.

      • Jack says:

        Also, this is the middle of the holiday season with all this TSA nonsense. This is arguably the strictest/tightest security push the U.S. can provide. And this happens.

      • Rosin says:

        Most probably, i’m not telling you anything new, but all the scanning and the rest is to humiliate you gradually into submission. Having the government literally their hand down your pants. This dumbs-down our sensitivity and dignified, freedom-fighter reactivity.

        The next reason is that it sells scanners that are profit to Chertoff (direct interest).

        Then, thinking about it, there are much cheeper and more effective bomb-sniffing dogs that are NOT used now.

        I mean, in the light of this one cannot pretend that the government’s intent is trully “security” and then to proceed searching flows in the integrity of such intent. This is not their intent. As you may know it is a slow and persistent agenda being played out patiently to turn the people into sedated, egomaniacal, retarded slaves. It is being played in very small increments–the proverbial frog being boiled alive.

  26. Ugly Canuck says:

    Gee, poor kid…I have heard of of similar things happening to airplane wheel-well immigrant stowaways as well, but IIRC those would usually be found frozen to death still in the well, due to the temperatures they’d get exposed to at the high trans-oceanic flight altitudes.

    • YarbroughFair says:

      Ugly, you are absolutely right. The flight was over 800 miles and would have climbed to an altitude that would have frozen or suffocated him.

  27. ill lich says:

    That neighborhood is only blocks away from a undeveloped nature area (Blue Hills Reservation), if his body had fallen just a few blocks further southwest they might never have found it (in fact the police searched that area as part of the investigation and found his shoes and shirt there.)

    I feel sorry for the kid, what a way to go, he either froze to death or suffocated. I bet he thought he was getting on the plane to Baltimore and it wouldn’t be a long ride from NC.

  28. seanpatgallagher says:

    My guess is this was a contributing factor:

    And by “contradictory,” here’s some blockbuster news: Although the X-ray and metal detector rigmarole is mandatory for pilots and flight attendants, many other airport workers, including those with regular access to aircraft — to cabins, cockpits, galleys and freight compartments — are exempt. That’s correct. Uniformed pilots cannot carry butter knives onto an airplane, yet apron workers and contract ground support staff — cargo loaders, baggage handlers, fuelers, cabin cleaners, caterers — can, as a matter of routine, bypass TSA inspection entirely.

    There’s an entire class of workers who won’t be challenged by security if they look the part.

    I’m not familar with Charlotte Airport, but think about the size of your local metro airport and how easy it would be for someone to hop a fence and walk onto the tarmac, especially at night.

    -S

  29. AdamC says:

    Am I the only one getting a flashback to Dave Chappelle in Con Air?

  30. Anonymous says:

    “At the risk of pointing out what is very much apparent: all the TSA’s invasive body-scanning and crotch-groping failed to prevent this. What if this kid was a suicide bomber stowaway, strapped with explosives?”

    The argument would be that TSA scanning didn’t catch him precisely because he wasn’t strapped with explosives.

    The premise doesn’t make any sense: 100+ passengers get on any given plane. Do we ask “how did these unarmed people get through the scans/patdowns, what if those people were strapped with explosives?!?!?”

    Clearly, there is a fault in the airport security here, but that fault doesn’t demonstrate the inadequacy of the TSA scan procedures.

    (and for the record, I’m against the enhanced pat-downs + scanners)

  31. mkb says:

    37 k feet atmospheric conditions makes him a candidate for the Darwin prize if there weren’t so many silly beggars checking out the same way. What are these people on?

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      They are all high on hope when they board, I’m afraid.

      But the reason they choose this method is that they remain as God made them – ignorant.

      At least when it comes to the prevailing physical conditions in the wheel wells of commercial aircraft once they are flying at 10K metres.

  32. Anonymous says:

    TSA at their best,since they missed this kid with no known intentions, possible deadly education for future would be terrorists,I demand that the sandwich they took away from me be returned and I will not accept replacement,I want the original.Flight from London on 10/21/10

  33. Rosin says:

    Bomb sniffing dog are extremely efficient.
    This is why they are NOT being used and why Chertoff wants vigorously the scanners:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l91S09bVSDU

    and this is how the “underwear bomber” went through borders WITHOUT passport (you can’t make this up!), smell the false flag:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3hPsppsdNQ
    and this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM2yiohmPEI

  34. jonw says:

    In google reader, the picture next to this headline is appropriately a red blotch (of sumac powder).

    Access to the airfield itself is generally easy. Swiping a port authority ID lets in all kinds of refuelers, caterers, maintenance workers, etc. Someone’s decided they don’t need to be TSA’d like crew and pilots do. It’s outside the public eye, so pornoscanning the airfield people doesnt have any theater value. I’m sure the lobbyists are already using this example to try and sell more machines.

  35. 1010nabulation says:

    To those wondering about the clothes being found elsewhere, I read in Mary Roach’s book Stiff that during high-altitude plane crashes, clothing is usually ripped from the body as it falls. Unfortunately, I don’t have the book in my possession anymore and so can’t find the exact citation. Perhaps that’s what happened to this kid, though–he fell from a high altitude, after all. Speculation, of course, but it’s another possibility.

  36. Pantograph says:

    Look on the bright side. At least we can abuse his tragic death to bitch once more about the TSA.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Former victim (employee) of CLT airport here, you know how this kid got into the airport? Miles of unsecured, rusty fence overhung by trees with parking spaces butted up against it, holes in it and not one single soul patrolling it after dark.

    • Anonymous says:

      Former victim (employee) of CLT airport here, you know how this kid got into the airport? Miles of unsecured, rusty fence overhung by trees with parking spaces butted up against it, holes in it and not one single soul patrolling it after dark.

      I completely agree with this, having flown in and out of Charlotte a few times. Sadly, Charlotte is not the only airport in the US (or even in the world) like this – I have flown in and out of airports that do not even have fences around them – just a few buildings. However, most of those are outside the city – Charlotte is right in the middle of the city, with poorly secured paremeters.

      Truthfully, I am surprised we haven’t seen way more of this. Yeah, you have airports such as DFW or Orlando or something that has miles of secured paremeter, but I am sure even these have holes somewhere. But there are too many regional airports and smaller airports that just do not have that kind of security. Truthfully, I am surprised we are not seeing bombs in wheel wells left and right.

  38. Anonymous says:

    This isn’t new. There have been a number of similar cases over the years with refugees from Africa stowing away in the landing gear of planes flying to Europe. As far as I can recall, they’ve all died from exposure and were found aftre landing.

  39. Rosin says:

    I was thinking: if they stage an even with a “bomber” hiding his bomb up in his ass, next they are going to …not have enough with just the “groping”. I mean, how much longer people could STAND this!

  40. guavajellyfish says:

    Why would someone climb in an airplane wheel well?
    Is hopping freight trains not dangerous enough for kids these days?

  41. Anonymous says:

    According to the Boston Globe (at the bottom of the article)

    “Last month, police recovered two cars that neighbors saw speeding away from the area the night Tisdale’s body was found.” … “Keating said blood and human tissue was found on the undercarriages of the vehicles, but there was no evidence that the drivers were responsible for Tisdale’s fatal injuries.”

    Wha-huh? They found two vehicles speeding away from the scene, with blood on the undercarriage, but don’t offer any evidence why we shouldn’t believe that Tisdale was run over bay a car? Also his shirt and shoes were found elsewhere. That seems unlikely to have your shirt and shoes fall off of you during a fall, though I suppose it’s possible.

    The only evidence that directly links Tisdale to the wheel well are [according to the whdh.com link] ““There were indications of hand and fingerprints in a greasy area. These couldn’t be processed through the nature of the grease itself, to make an imprint. But, forensic interviewers did locate that it was a hand print in that area,” said Keating. “

  42. Frank_in_Virginia says:

    “While the case is a tragedy, Mr. Keating said, it also underscores fears that someone with malicious intention could do the same thing.”

    What; someone with malicious intent could fall out of a jet’s well well?

  43. LightningRose says:

    Why in hell would anyone commit suicide by taking a bomb with them into a wheel well? It would be far easier to attach a bomb to the landing gear and go back the way they came.

    • moioci says:

      That’s the point exactly, Rose. They could easily do just that.

      • LightningRose says:

        No, that’s not the point at all. Xeni wrote:

        “At the risk of pointing out what is very much apparent: all the TSA’s invasive body-scanning and crotch-groping failed to prevent this. What if this kid was a suicide bomber stowaway, strapped with explosives?”

  44. Anonymous says:

    “a quiet neighborhood in Milton, Mass., Nov. 15, below a flight path”

    Really?

  45. Alex says:

    I guess you could say his trip turned out to be … a one way ticket.

    YEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

  46. Anonymous says:

    There is a terrifying photo of a similar incident in the book Famous Australian News Pictures by Harry Gordon. By sheer chance, an amateur photographer captured the moment a 14 year old Sydney boy, who had stowed away in the wheel housing of a Japanese jet, fell to his death shortly after take-off. This happened on 22 February 1971.

  47. reptoflux says:

    “What if this kid was a suicide bomber stowaway, strapped with explosives?”

    As far as I know, suicide bombers have never hid in the wheel wells of passenger jets with malicious intent, but unreasonable security policies, like those of the TSA, are too often justified by assuming the worst motivations of our fellow citizens. I think this was a simple tragedy for Delvonte Tisdale and his loved ones, and no more.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Why’d he do it?

  49. BikerRay says:

    Why the concentrated effort for airlines? Hell, you can take out more people in a WalMart checkout line.
    And put a big sign in every wheel well – “Stay here, you gonna die!”

  50. Ted8305 says:

    You know, private pilots are trained to walk around and physically inspect their aircraft before flying. You’d think commercial flights would have similar requirements for a walkaround and inspection of the aircraft prior to leaving the gate.

    Or maybe this kid ran out and jumped in the airplane as it was taxiing, all Cuban refugee style.

  51. netsharc says:

    “These are not the suicide bombers you are looking for.”

    Seriously, even in Israel, neighbor to a territory the oppression of which breeds the kind of people who end up being suicide bombers, they are a pretty rare occurrence, if the US is in danger of having suicide bombers, they would have already walked into a crowded airport, got into the middle of a crowded TSA-checkpoint queue, and blew himself up to bits. Heck, why airports, any mall or Christmas tree lighting would be good enough as a target.

    Nowadays, any terrorist getting in a plane can be classified as suicidal, because there is little chance of getting out of it alive. Since there hasn’t been any suicide bombing in crowded areas in the US since 9/11, I can deduce that no one is actually suicidal, and that no one is actually planning to hijack and suicide-crash any planes. Therefore, all that airport security? It’s all theater.

  52. planettom says:

    I wonder if he’d read about this incident back in June where a guy survived a flight from Vienna to London in the wheel well.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/09/man-survives-flight-hidde_n_605752.html

  53. cubby96 says:

    Also his shirt and shoes were found elsewhere. That seems unlikely to have your shirt and shoes fall off of you during a fall, though I suppose it’s possible.

    When suffering from extreme hypothermia, there is a relatively common late stage called paradoxical undressing. It’s worth reading about, and might easily explain the clothes falling away differently – he may have removed them himself.

    • cubby96 says:

      That first paragraph was meant to be a quote. I guess I need to use the preview function.

      Anyway, this is the part I meant to add to the discussion:

      When suffering from extreme hypothermia, there is a relatively common late stage called paradoxical undressing. It’s worth reading about, and might easily explain the clothes falling away differently – he may have removed them himself.

  54. technogeek says:

    NOTHING will harden the target enough. And there are plenty of other soft targets.

    And y’know, that’s perfectly OK. We are no less safe now than we were before 9/11. The odds are still better than driving.

    The TSA really is wasting time and money and damaging our economy by driving up the cost of transportation. The few jobs created for the designated annoyers and the manufacturers of scanners don’t make up for that.

    Perspective, people. The only thing we have to fear *IS* fear itself… because that does more harm than anything else, if we let it.

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