The Boy Who Fell Out of a Japan Airlines Jet

Keith Sapsford falls from the wheel well of a plane in 1970. John Gilpin was testing out his camera when he accidentally caught the 14-year-old stowaway’s fall. Photo via gothic.life
Keith Sapsford falls from the wheel well of a plane in 1970. John Gilpin was testing out his camera when he accidentally caught the 14-year-old stowaway’s fall. Photo via gothic.life

Keith Sapsford, a 14-year-old boy from Australia, died when he fell 200 ft. out of the wheel-well of a DC-8 owned by Japan Airlines as it took off from Sydney, Australia on a flight to Tokyo, Japan. Sapsford had apparently entered the plane’s wheel-well in an attempt to stowaway on the flight, but died only moments after takeoff when the angle of the wheel-well shifted as the plane ascended. John Gilpin, an Australian photographer, was taking photos of planes taking off from that airport on the same day and inadvertently snapped a photo of Sapsford in mid-air as he was falling. Gilpin did not see this as he snapped the photo and instead only discovered this a week later after he got his film developed.

Submission by Logan Agle. Thank you.