British police have confirmed that the body of a stowaway fell from a Heathrow-bound plane as it flew over South London on Sunday afternoon, landing in the garden of a residential address in Clapham. According to media reports, the body of the unidentified man landed just three feet from a local resident who was sunbathing in the garden at the time.
“At this point, police believe the man was a stowaway and had fallen from the landing gear of an inbound Kenya Airways flight to Heathrow Airport,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
“A bag, water and some food were discovered in the landing gear compartment once it landed at the airport,” the statement continued – police confirmed that the death was not being treated as suspicious but that officers from the Met’s Aviation Policing Command were liaising with the airline and international authorities.
Kenya Airways flight KQ100 landed at Heathrow Airport at approximately 3.20pm on Sunday afternoon after the nine-hour flight from the Kenyan capital. It’s not known how the man managed to evade airport security or whether he was even an airport worker who managed to use his position to smuggle himself into the landing gear.
According to the BBC, the temperature in the landing gear compartment would have fallen to around -60C, meaning that the stowaway may well have been unconscious or even dead way before he fell as the landing gear was deployed for landing. The location where the man was found is around 13 miles away from Heathrow Airport.
The Metropolitan Police said that officers attended with the London Ambulance Service but that the stowaway was declared dead at the scene. The man, whose age is not known, is yet to be identified.
This isn’t the first time that stowaways have fallen from the landing gear of planes coming into land at Heathrow. In 2015, a man fell from a British Airways plane onto the roof of an office block in Richmond, West London after an 11-hour flight from Johannesburg. The man was decapitated in the fall and was found by police in an air conditioning unit on the roof.
A second man was found unconscious still in the undercarriage of the plane but died several months later from injuries sustained during the flight.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Kenya Airways said…
“The 6,840km (4250-mile) flight takes eight hours and 50 minutes. It is unfortunate that a person has lost his life by stowing aboard one of our aircraft and we express our condolences.
“Kenya Airways is working closely with the relevant authorities in Nairobi and London as they fully investigate this case.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.