A stowaway was found alive in the nose wheel of a cargo plane that traveled from South Africa to the Netherlands, according to Dutch police.
Police found him hiding after the plane landed at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on Sunday morning. He was taken to the hospital in stable condition, according to CNN.
He was first spotted by airport grounds crew after they saw something that looked like a person, and called the police. After arriving on scene, first responders confirmed he was alive but had a very low body temperature.
“We were surprised upon finding this man but even more surprised at him being alive after the plane flew over 10,000 [kilometers] in very, very cold temperatures,” Joanne Helmonds, Royal Dutch Military Police spokeswoman, told CNN.
The man was revived and stabilized, and was taken to a hospital in Amsterdam. After his recovery, he will be processed at the Asylum Seekers Centre where authorities will find out if the man was looking for asylum in the country, according to the police spokeswoman.
His age and nationality hasn’t been released, but he is believed to be between 16 and 35 years old.
Cargolux, the Luxembourgian cargo airline the stowaway was on did not comment on the news, according to CNN.
Stowing away on an airplane is not as simple as hiding and hanging on – it’s usually a deadly proposition. According to the FAA, over 77 percent of people who attempt to stowaway on a plane do not survive.
Sneaking into the plane’s wheel is the most common method for stowing away, but people who try can be crushed when the landing gear starts to retract. If they survive that, they will be faced with extremely low oxygen levels and will have a lot of trouble keeping conscious.
On top of all that, temperatures can – and will – drop dramatically. Stowaways can expect temperatures as low as 75 or 80 degrees below zero, which will severely impact blood flow. It’s not uncommon for them to get frostbite or hypothermia.
More often than not, people who stow away aren’t just looking for a free ride on an airplane – they are looking for asylum in another country due to ongoing issues in their own.
The cargo flight flew 11 hours from Johannesburg, South Africa to Amsterdam. The plane also had a stopover in Nairobi, Kenya. Right now, police do not know if he climbed onboard in South Africa or Kenya.