Plane stowaway: Is it possible to survive?

Plane stowaway: Is it possible to survive? »Play Video
A 16-year-old boy who stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui, on stretcher at center, is loaded into an ambulance at Kahului Airport in Kahului, Maui.

AURORA, Ore. -- Aviation experts say it's amazing the 15-year-old boy who hid in a wheel well on a flight from California to Hawaii survived.

It sounds nearly impossible. How could a kid really pull it off?

Bruce Bennett owns Aurora Aviation and he has thousands of hours at the controls of private jets.

He's seen his share of surprises during his pre-flight checks, like bird's nests and small mice, but he's never come across anything larger than a small animal trying to hitch a free ride.

At 38,000 feet Bennett says it would be 80 degrees below, not to mention the average human would pass out from lack of oxygen in about one minute. So he has his doubts.

"It's a miracle," Bennett said.

But Bennett admits it is possible.

If that teenager really did pull off the ultimate hitchhike, Bennett says that raises a whole new set of concerns.

"Like sabotage. It's frightening. At little Aurora Airport we have gates, security cameras, and there's people everywhere keeping an eye out," Bennett said.

There have been about 105 people that have tried something like this, and 75 percent of them were killed.

There's science behind how the survivors pull it off. Turns out they go into a state of hibernation, just like a bear in winter. That protects all the vital organs until the temperatures warm up.