In 1970, fourteen-year-old Keith Sapsford


In 1970, fourteen-year-old Keith Sapsford of Australia decided he’d had enough of his Catholic boarding school. He escaped to Sydney Airport, with plans of leaving the country as a stowaway. Back then, security at airports was very lax by today’s standards, and Sapsford was able to sneak onto a DC-8 bound for Japan. But he wasn’t in the cabin or the cargo area — he was hiding in one of the plane’s wheel wells.

Sapsford was apparently not an expert on the mechanics of a plane — the wheel well may have seemed a safe place before the jet took off, but that would soon change. Once aloft, the plane would need to retract its landing gear, and to do so the wheel well would open up like a trap door. Sapsford had no chance; he plummeted 200 feet to his death.

Photographer John Gilpin happened to be taking pictures at the airport, and by pure coincidence he snapped one that captured Sapsford in midair, moments before his death.


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