A stowaway who miraculously survived a ten-hour flight from Delhi to London hidden in the undercarriage of a jumbo jet is now a driver at Heathrow Airport, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Nearly 23 years ago, Pardeep Saini emerged alive at the airport after a 4,000-mile journey at up to 40,000ft.
He endured temperatures of -60C and was starved of oxygen.
Tale of survival: Pardeep Saini incredibly survived the journey to London on the undercarriage of the plane from Delhi
After the British Airways plane landed, baggage handlers saw him staggering on the tarmac, suffering from hypothermia.
He was taken to hospital and doctors were stunned by his survival.
With him on the flight was his younger brother Vijay. But he froze to death and fell 2,000ft on to an industrial site in Richmond, South-West London.
His body was found five days later.
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Mr Saini, 44, spoke to the MoS last week following news that a stowaway had fallen from the wheel bay of a Heathrow-bound jet close to a sunbather in a garden in Clapham, South London.
Mr Saini said the tragedy had triggered memories of his own trauma. ‘I don’t want to remember, it’s hard for me, the memory. I feel sorry for the guy.’
He said he still cannot remember anything of his nightmare flight in October 1996 when he was 22 and Vijay 19. A migrant smuggler had helped them hide in the nose-wheel bay of the BA jet.
Jet-plunge body may never be identified
The stowaway whose frozen body fell 3,500ft from a Heathrow-bound plane, landing in a London back garden last Sunday, may never be identified, investigators fear.
He carried no documents and efforts to match his fingerprints in Kenya, where flight KQ100 took off from Nairobi, have yielded no results. A roll-call of airline employees shows no one is missing.
Only a bag of clothes and food was found in a space near the aircraft’s landing gear when it touched down at Heathrow.
Kenyan authorities believe the mystery man may have climbed on board in Johannesburg, where the flight began the previous afternoon, arriving in Nairobi on Saturday evening.
Doctors believe Mr Saini survived, despite losing consciousness from a lack of oxygen, because the freezing temperatures kept him in ‘suspended animation’.
After leaving hospital, Mr Saini, a car mechanic from Punjab, was threatened with deportation even though he claimed he feared persecution from police who had mistakenly identified him with Sikh separatists. After a legal battle that only ended in 2014, he was allowed to stay in Britain. He has since married and become a father to two sons, aged four and one. He lives in Wembley, North London, and is a driver for a catering company at Heathrow. But he is still haunted by the death of his brother. ‘I was in a depression for six years,’ he said. ‘If the two of us died, then it’s one thing, or if both of us lived, it’s another story.
‘But I lost my younger brother, he was like a friend to me. We grew up playing together.’
He and Vijay had never flown before and Mr Saini said they had not realised the enormous risks they were taking.
Mr Saini has since flown, though he said ‘the first time was difficult’. He is one of only two known stowaways who survived long-haul flights to the UK after hiding in the undercarriage of a jet.
In June 2015, a 24-year-old man survived an 8,000-mile flight from Johannesburg to London, clinging to a BA plane’s undercarriage.