Stowaway Survives Flight Clinging To Landing Gear At 19,000 Feet

A stowaway has had a lucky escape, according to reports originating out of Maastricht. A 16-year-old Kenyan boy survived a flight, clinging to the landing gear, and is currently being treated in hospital. The flight is thought to be a Turkish Airlines cargo flight operated by an Airbus A330 from London’s Stansted Airport, though the aircraft had flown from Nairobi via Istanbul the day before.

Maastricht Airport, Stowaway, Turkish Airlines
A stowaway had a lucky escape surviving a flight from London Stansted to Maastricht. Photo: Getty Images

While rare, stowaway stories do pop up from time to time. Unfortunately, many such stories don’t have a happy ending. After all, without the heat and pressurization of the aircraft cabin, stowaways must endure extreme circumstances. However, a 16-year-old Kenyan was dealt a lucky hand surviving a flight to Maastricht Airport yesterday afternoon.

What do we know?

At the moment, details on the stowaway found at Maastricht Airport are sketchy as the story is still emerging. At this point, we know that the individual involved was a 16-year-old Kenyan national, according to a tweet from the Dutch Royal Marechaussee (a police branch of the Netherlands armed forces).

Additionally, the airport confirmed to Simple Flying that the flight had originated in London. Dutch aviation publication Luchtvaart Nieuws reports that the only flight to land from London at Maastricht yesterday was TK6305, operated by a Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200 freighter. The aircraft had flown to London Stansted from Nairobi via Istanbul raising the question that the individual could’ve boarded the aircraft the day prior given his nationality.

Maastricht Airport, Stowaway, Turkish Airlines
The flight cruised at 19,000 feet for just 16 minutes. Photo:

When contacted by Simple Flying, a spokesperson for the Koninklijke Marechaussee confirmed that the boy is doing incredibly well considering the circumstances. The force said that many questions remain, such as verifying his identity and whether the case was related to human trafficking.

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Simple Flying has Turkish Airlines for comment. This article will be updated as appropriate with any responses received.

The flight in question

According to data from, the flight was operated by TC-JCI, a seven-year-old aircraft. The aircraft departed at 12:07, quickly climbing to 19,000 feet. Fortunately for the young man involved, the flight’s short duration meant that it didn’t climb any higher.

According to a table of the time of useful consciousness published by the US Federal Aviation Administration, at 20,000 feet above mean sea level, individuals will have around 30 minutes of useful consciousness due to the lower oxygen levels in the air.

Maastricht Airport, Stowaway, Turkish Airlines
The boy was found near the aircraft’s landing gear in Maastricht. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The flight reached its cruise altitude of 19,000 feet at 12:17, just ten minutes after departure. It remained at this height until 12:33UTC, meaning the cruise lasted 16 minutes. After a long descent, the flight touched down in Maastricht at 12:57 UTC (13:57 CET). Following the stop in Maastricht, the aircraft continued to Istanbul with a cruise altitude of 35,000 feet. At this height, the time of useful consciousness without a pressurized cabin is just 30 to 60 seconds.

What do you make of the young man’s stowaway journey? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!