Keith Sapsford drops from a plane’s landing gear compartment

Keith Sapsford was an Australian teen with a need to escape – after being sent to Catholic school he decided to run away. On February 22, 1970, he snuck inside of Tokyo-bound plane through the airplane’s wheel compartment and attempted to take the plane all the way to Japan.

His belief that he would avoid the pain of high altitude exposure by hitching a ride in the wheel-well was sadly incorrect. Sapsford had no idea that the compartment would reopen when the plane’s wheel’s retracted after takeoff. Shortly after the plan lifted off he fell 200 feet to his death.

The photo was captured by John Gilpin, an amateur photographer who just happened to be taking pictures at the airport. He had no way of knowing that he captured Sapsford’s final moments. The boy’s father later said:

All my son wanted to do was to see the world. He had itchy feet. His determination to see how the rest of the world lives has cost him his life.

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