Man Survives in the Landing Gear Compartment from a Flight from Guatemala to Miami

Jaquelyn Garcia-Hernandez , Journalism Student

Over time, individuals have emigrated to the U.S. to escape their past life, whether that be from persecution and violence, corruptness in the government/politics, climate change, etc. Many continue to emigrate through dangerous methods; for example, by crossing rivers/oceans, traveling on cargo trains, and even with the help of ‘coyotes’ who dedicate their lives to crossing illegal immigrants, but as we know this doesn’t always turn out in their favor. Half of the time we witness the tragedy on the news from their efforts.

On November 27, 2021, a 26-year-old man was found in the landing gear compartment of American Airlines Flight 1182 from Guatemala City to Miami International Airport just after 10:00 a.m. 

According to NBC writer Dennis Romero, “He was initially checked out by emergency medical services workers before being sent to a hospital for evaluation. His condition was not released.” 

Quite frankly it’s heartbreaking to see how far some people would go to escape their country’s harm but at the same time, it’s unacceptable that people risk their lives to a certain extent because if this male wasn’t fortunate enough, he could have died as the flight was well over two hours long and with a high altitude which makes it harder for a person to breathe. 

“It is super shocking to hear this story, said junior Emily Chi-Sanchez of HHS. I believe that this story goes to show that there are individuals that are desperate to come to the U.S. and start a new life. I definitely think that these airports should increase their security because if it was easy for this male to get in the landing gear compartment then who knows what else could possibly be placed in this compartment.”

“I think this story should spark a change, said junior Daniella Alvarez of HHS. “This story should help be the start of there being a “correct way” of having illegal immigrants come into the United States because right now there is no “correct way,” and clearly this isn’t helping anyone. In fact, it’s causing harm for people and I would assume that if there was a “correct way” these illegal immigrants would do anything in their power to follow an order and start a new journey.” 

Who knows what consequence this 26-year-old will have to face, but according to New York Times writer Azi Paybarah, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection said its agents had taken into custody a 26-year-old man “who attempted to evade detection in the landing gear compartment of an aircraft.”

 News outlets have yet to disclose further information about what will happen next, but there’s little that can be done to help this man stay in the United States. Paybarah further stated, that “The Federal Aviation Administration said that as of Feb. 1, 129 people had attempted to stow away “in the wheel wells or other areas of commercial aircraft” throughout the world since 1947. Of those, 100 “died of injuries or exposure during the flight,” the agency said. 

In 2014, a 15-year-old boy survived a five-and-a-half-hour flight from San Jose, California, to Maui, Hawaii, after he apparently spent most of the flight unconscious in the freezing, low-oxygen wheel storage compartment. 

Later In 2019, the body of a man believed to have fallen from the landing gear compartment of a Kenya Airways flight to Heathrow Airport from Nairobi, Kenya, landed in the backyard of a house in the Clapham area of southwestern London, narrowly missing a sunbather.”

Overall, it’s concerning to hear that this isn’t the first time an individual has hidden in the landing gear compartment to avoid officials in an attempt to arrive in a new country. It’s actually quite disappointing that there has been no increase in security to prevent incidents like this from occurring, but it’s also scary to think about because these human beings have families that they left behind and to know that 100 out of the 129 have died while being in the landing gear compartment is insane.