A Canadian man, angry that he was refused a plane ticket to Australia at Los Angeles International Airport, stripped naked, sprinted across the tarmac and climbed into the wheel well of a moving jumbo jet, officials said.
Pilots of the Qantas Airways flight stopped the plane upon realizing they had picked up an unauthorized passenger and the man was coaxed out of the wheel well and arrested for trespassing, airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said Wednesday.
“This was an extremely dangerous thing for him to do,” she said. “If he had continued to cling in there with the aircraft taking off at over 200 per hour, he might have fallen out and could have been sucked up by an engine.”
“If he had survived that and was in the wheel well when the landing gear was retracted, he could have been crushed by the mechanism. And if not he very likely would have frozen to death during the 15 1/2 hour flight at 30,000 feet while wearing no clothes.”
The man, Neil Melly, 31, tried to buy a one-way ticket on the Qantas flight on Monday evening, but was turned down because he could not supply a valid credit card, Castles said.
Later, he managed to climb over an airport fence, topped by three strands of barbed wire, without injury and was spotted by a ramp worker “running, naked, full-speed” toward the plane.
Castles said a check by authorities found that Melly had been reported missing to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and was suffering from bipolar disorder, a manic-depressive illness.