Stowaway survives 11-hour plane ride from Africa to Amsterdam

WASHINGTON – A stowaway from South Africa spent 11 hours in the nose wheel of a cargo plane that landed in Amsterdam.

United Press International (UPI) reported the Dutch military police said the man who hid in the nose wheel compartment was doing well under the circumstances and was transported to the hospital.

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A spokesperson for freight carrier Cargolux confirmed the incident, telling NBC News the airline was investigating how the stowaway gained access to the Boeing 747.

The flight, which made one stop in Nairobi, Kenya, traveled 11 hours, 16 minutes, and likely hit altitudes of 30,000 to 42,000 feet, in which temperatures are below freezing.

The age and nationality of the traveller is still unknown, according to Joanna Helmonds, a spokeswoman for the Marechausse, or military police.

Our first concern of course was for his health, Helmonds said. This is definitely very unusual that someone was able to survive the cold at such a height — very, very unusual.

According to UPI, in an email to The New York Times, 1st Lt. Mike Hofman said that after the man was found, officials discovered that he still was breathing.

Then, a medical helicopter arrived to provide care, and the man, who has not been named, was taken to the hospital, where he has been able to communicate, officials said.

Due to low oxygen levels in the wheel storage compartments and the extreme cold, it is rare that stowaways survive the journey.