Channel 4 Documentary On Man Who Survived 5,600-Mile Flight Clinging To Jet Airs Tomorrow

by : Saman Javed on : 03 Jan 2021 15:44
Channel 4 Documentary On Man Who Survived 5,600-Mile Flight Clinging To Jet Airs TomorrowChannel 4

A man who survived an 11-hour, 5,639-mile flight clinging to the undercarriage of a jumbo jet will tell the world his story in a documentary set to air tomorrow, January 4.

In 2012, Themba Cabeka was one of two men who hid in the landing gear of a flight from Johannesburg to London. While his companion, Carlito Vale, sadly fell to his death, Cabeka survived.


His story will now be told in a new Channel 4 documentary, The Man Who Fell From The Sky.

Channel 4

Cabeka was discovered on the ground at Heathrow Airport following the flight, and was in a coma for six months. He did not learn of his friend’s death until he woke up. The British Airways jet would have flown at temperatures as low as -60C.

Cabeka is one of only two people who have survived a stowaway flight to Britain. The only other person was Pardeep Saini, a car mechanic from Punjab, who endured a 10-hour flight from Delhi to London in 1996.


Vale’s body was found in the air-conditioning unit of an office block in Richmond, just six miles from Heathrow.

Cabeka, now 30 years old, recalls:

When the plane was flying, I could see the ground, I could see the cars, I could see small people. After a little time, I passed out through lack of oxygen. The last thing I remember just after the plane took off was Carlito saying to me, ‘Yeah, we’ve made it.’


Cabeka recalls meeting Vale in a nightclub in Johannesburg, and the two plotted their route to Britain. Vale had grown up homeless, while Cabeka, abandoned by his mother at the age of three, had been living in a campsite near the airport.

‘My background was very hard. I was raised by my cousin, who adopted me as a child. Everything was normal until she passed away. I was going to school but I had to drop out because I couldn’t pay the fees,’ he explained.

Cabeka, who has adopted the British name Justin, now lives in Liverpool, where Channel 4 producer Rich Bentley was able to track him down.

The Man Who Fell From The Sky airs on Channel 4 tomorrow at 10pm.


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Topics: Film and TV, Channel 4, Documentaries, Documentary, Now, South Africa