Could flight stowaway happen at Fresno Yosemite airport?

The Fresno BeeApril 24, 2014 

An F-16 lifts off in the background as a charter jet taxies to the tarmac at Fresno Yosemite International Airport in Fresno.

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In light of a Bay Area teen breaching the perimeter fence at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport and sneaking into the wheel well of a jetliner for a ride to Hawaii, airport managers around the country are wondering: "Could that happen here?"

At Fresno Yosemite International Airport, where flights leave daily for cities across the state and to places like Denver, Dallas, Seattle and Salt Lake City, "we're always very aware of anything (like San Jose) that happens in this industry," said Rhonda Jorn, the airport's marketing manager.

"Airport security is very highly sensitive, and federal regulations prevent us from really talking about any aspect of it," she said. "But after talking with our security captain, we know that security here exceeds all of the state and federal standards."

Jorn said Fresno Yosemite reviews and enhances its security measures as new tools and technology become available.

"Luckily, something like (San Jose) has not happened to us here," she added. "I'm sure if you asked San Jose last week, they'd say 'We're so secure we could never imagine it happening here.' But that's one reason why we're prohibited from talking about so much of it."

The San Jose stowaway incident happened just a few days after a 22-year-old man tried to run past the security checkpoint in the FYI terminal on April 14. That man was quickly tackled and handcuffed, and taken by paramedics for evaluation.

The teen apparently stayed in the wheel well of the jet while it flew above 30,000 feet where there is little oxygen and temperatures are below freezing. Upon landing, he stumbled onto the tarmac and was taken to a Maui hospital.

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