Body Fell from Plane Headed to Heathrow Airport & Landed in Couple's Garden

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Plane flies high above clouds
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On Sunday, residents in Clapham, South London, heard what one described as an "almighty bang" outside their homes. Speaking with the Daily Mail, one woman later said that she assumed it was some fallen scaffolding on the street. Never in a million years could she have guessed what it really was -- the body of a stowaway that had fallen from a plane bound for Heathrow Airport.

  • The unidentified body had apparently traveled nine hours from Nairobi, Kenya, before being ejected when the landing gear was lowered.

    It was around 3:30 in the afternoon when the body landed in the garden of a private home -- just feet from a man lounging in his backyard. The body, which was frozen, reportedly came with with such force it left a dent in the grass and was said to be "badly twisted."

    It didn't take long for investigators to trace the body back to a Kenya Airways flight that had taken off from Nairobi. Once they searched the landing compartment, they also discovered a bag, food, and water the man had presumably packed with him for his ill-fated journey.

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  • One resident said she was "pottering" about her kitchen when she heard the man fall, and sent her husband to investigate, according to the Daily Mail.

    He was so shaken by what he saw outside, the unnamed woman claimed he wouldn't tell her what happened at first. 

    "He was obviously quite shocked and went out into the street where my neighbor was standing on the phone to the police," the woman recalled. "[The neighbor] was really shaken up. He'd been in the garden when it happened and the body must have landed so close to where he was.

    "My husband came back in and I asked him what was going on and he said, ''Haven't you seen the man? The man who fell from the sky?'' she continued. "I wondered what he was talking about and went up to see for myself, and there in the middle of the lawn was a body of a man."

  • As shocking as this story is to comprehend, it's not the first time a stowaway has died after falling from a flight bound for London.

    In June 2015, not one but two stowaways hid aboard a British Airways flight from Johannesburg to London -- a 12-hour flight. One of the men fell from the plane in a similar manner, as the aircraft got closer to Heathrow and lowered its landing gear. (Investigators later suspected he'd been crouched in the wheel well but couldn't be sure.) He soon fell to his death, landing on the roof of a home in southwest London. The second man, who was hidden in the undercarriage of the plane, was hospitalized for injuries but survived the flight.

  • Although stowaway stories are rare, they do happen -- and remarkably, many of the culprits survive.

    Perhaps the most infamous story of this kind happened back in April of 2014, when a teenager was discovered after traveling from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines flight.

    At the time, Jose Guillen, a ground operations coordinator at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, told CNN that it's actually not that difficult to hop into a plane's wheel well -- but surviving a flight is another matter.

    "You can grab onto the struts and landing gear assembly kind of like a ladder," he said. "And you just jump on the tire and climb into the wheel well."

    If you're wondering how much room there actually is inside a wheel well, picture something a little smaller than the trunk space of a car. What's more, a stowaway "would need to guess where the tire is going to fold in when it closes after takeoff," Guillen told CNN. Guess wrong, and you could run the risk of getting crushed when the flight takes off. (Yikes.)

    And as this case makes clear, falling from the aircraft once the wheels are lowered for landing is also a concern that makes the whole circumstance incredibly dangerous.

    If one good bit of news has come from this story, it's that no one on the ground lost their life when the body fell from the sky -- but knowing that this isn't an isolated incident certainly does call airport security into question.