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VIENNA (AP) - A 20-year-old Romanian looking for work hid in the wheel well of a jet in Vienna and survived a 90-minute flight to London, police said Wednesday.
The man told British authorities that he crawled "under the wire" of the Vienna airport's perimeter fence and climbed into the undercarriage of a private Boeing 747 parked near a construction site for a new terminal, Schwechat police chief Leo Lauber said.
Lauber said the jet belonged to a high-ranking sheik from the United Arab Emirates and took off from the Austrian capital Sunday night without any passengers on board.
Stowaways face dangerous situations. Since they are not legally on board, they must sometimes spend days without water or food when traveling by ship, risking death. An equal risk of death is taken when trying to board an aircraft. Usually, a stowaway tries to jump into an aircraft by hanging on to the airliner's landing gear as the plane takes off, and the force of the wind can easily make a stowaway fall to his death. Because people flying on aircraft as stowaways must stay within the landing gear area, they face other risks, such as being crushed in a confined space when the gears retract, falling when the plane is landing, or dying from the heat produced by the engines of the aircraft. Deaths from hypothermia, caused by the extreme cold at high altitudes, or anoxia (lack of oxygen) are also possible and probable.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said in 2007, that since 1947, there have been 74 known airplane stowaway attempts worldwide. Only 14 of the individuals survived.