The frozen body of a stowaway fell from a Kenya Airways passenger jet and plunged more than 3,000ft into a small garden, missing a sunbather by just three feet, say witnesses. The Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight was on its final approach to Heathrow Airport when the suspected migrant fell from a landing gear compartment as the plane lowered its wheels just before 3.40pm on Sunday. The unidentified man landed in a garden in Clapham, south London, with a loud ‘whomp’ that startled neighbours and narrowly missed landing on a sunbather named locally as John Baldock. The stunned tenant called police who linked the discovery with a 4,250-mile flight from Nairobi to Heathrow.
A plane spotter, who was following the flight on an app from Clapham Common, had seen the body fall, and it is thought the stowaway was already dead before falling to the ground. Neighbours said the sunbather was lucky not to be killed and the tragic incident could have been much worse as the body could have fallen on packed Clapham Common, just 300 yards away, if it had fallen just two seconds later. The stowaway, who was wearing a blue shirt and denim jeans, landed face down on the lawn of the property which is 13 miles from Heathrow. The plane was flying at an altitude of just over 3,500ft and a speed of nearly 200mph as it passed over Clapham, according to flight-tracking data.
He would have had to survive almost nine hours starved of oxygen and temperatures of around -60C at an altitude of 40,000 feet. On inspecting the aircraft police found a bag containing food and clothing at the rear left landing gear. The 4,250-mile trip from Nairobi to Heathrow takes approximately eight hours and 50 minutes. The Kenya Airports Authority said it is investigating how the man got onto the plane in Nairobi.
In the past stowaways have fallen to the streets of London as planes lowered their landing gear
- In September 2012, a 30-year old from Mozambique, Jose Matada, died after falling from the undercarriage of a Heathrow-bound flight from Angola. He was found on the pavement in East Sheen on 9 September. An inquest into his death heard he is believed to have survived freezing temperatures of up to -60C for most of the 12-hour flight, but he was understood to be ‘dead or nearly dead’ by the time he hit the ground.
- Kikmet Komur, 32, froze to death in the landing gear compartment of a British Airways plane in July 2013. He was trying to enter the UK to see his girlfriend.
- Carlito Vale, from Mozambique, died when he landed on an office roof in Richmond, south-west London, having clung to the undercarriage of a British Airways plane in June 2015. A second man miraculously survived the same 11-hour flight from Johannesburg, South Africa while hiding in the undercarriage of the plane.
- In 2010, a 20-year-old man from Romania survived in the undercarriage of a private jet on a flight from Vienna to Heathrow.