Inspired by a film, two young men busted trying to hide inside airplane wheel well to hitch a ride to Singapore

Interior of an airplane wheel well. Photo illustration.
Interior of an airplane wheel well. Photo illustration.

Young people are willing to do a lot of foolish things to try and get where they want to go. Two young Indonesian men were ready to risk climbing into the wheel well of an airplane just to get to Singapore, but, lucky for them, the two were caught by security before they could attempt the incredibly dangerous journey.

The two young men, aged 20 and 17, were caught yesterday by a security officer at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang. Somehow they had managed to sneak under the airport’s perimeter fence and then hid in a cargo container belonging to Turkish Airlines while waiting to find a suitable Singapore-bound plane. 

“Their motive was to infiltrate and board a plane going to Singapore. They admitted that they wanted to go around in Singapore,” Soekarno-Hatta spokesperson Dewandono Prasetyo told Wartakota yesterday, adding that the two intended to stowaway by hiding in the plane’s wheel wells during the flight.

According to Prasetyo, the two hopeful stowaways had gotten the idea from watching a film but couldn’t remember the title.

While it’s possible they got the idea from a movie (certainly action heroes chasing after airplanes as they’re taking off and getting on board just in the nick of time by climbing up the landing gear is a common trope) but it seems more likely the two might have heard the wheel well stowaway idea from hearing real life news stories about it.

For example in 2015, a then 21-year-old man named Mario Steven Ambarita managed to stowaway in the landing gear of a Garuda Indonesia flight from Pekanbaru to Jakarta, supposedly in an attempt to meet Jokowi. 

Mario was lucky enough to survive the trip, but the vast majority of those who attempt to hide in airplane wheel wells do not due to the sub-freezing temperatures they experience while the plane is in flight. Whatever trouble the two young men caught at the airport yesterday got into, it pales in comparison to the risks they would’ve faced up in the air.

Subscribe to the WTF is Up in Southeast Asia + Hong Kong podcast to get our take on the top trending news and pop culture from the region every Thursday!

Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on