29. The Man who fell from the Sky with filmmaker Rich Bentley


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In 2015, two young men called Carlito and Justin, hid inside the wheel well of a plane flying from Johannesburg in South Africa, to London. As the wheels of the plane were lowered for landing, Carlito fell from the sky, to his death on the roof of an office building in West London. Against all odds, his best friend Justin survived, and was found on the runway at Heathrow airport.

Today I speak to Rich Bentley, a filmmaker from London who spent five years looking for Justin and making a film about Justin and Carlito’s story called The Man who fell from The Sky. Rich’s film aims to show the human story behind making such a desperate and dangerous decision.

There have only been 128 people ever recorded to have attempted a journey like this… and only 24 of them have survived. This is not surprising because at every stage you are brought close to death. You can fall from the plane as it takes off, be crushed by the wheels as they retract back into the plane, or die from the temperate during the flight which reaches as low as -81 degrees. You will without a doubt at least lose consciousness in these conditions, which means you are then likely to fall from the plane as the wheels are lowered for landing.

In this episode Rich tells us about meeting a few miraculous survivors including Baswee - the first person to ever attempt doing this in 1946 when he was just 12 years old. He was fleeing Indonesia after the death of his parents. We also talk about when he met Osama, a 27-year-old palestinian from Gaza who hid beneath a plane from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

But for the most part we talk about Carlito and Justin, who attempted this feat just a few years ago. It feels close to home because they were heading for London, which is actually the most popular destination for wheel well stowaways, with 16 in the last 25 years.

Carlito was raised in an orphanage in Mozambique and Justin was from a township in Johannesburg, This is where the two of them met, became friends and lived in a tent together whilst trying to survive.

And that’s the common thread in all these stories right. Behind every headline about migrants trying to make it to the UK, lies an individual story of someone driven by the dream of a better life.

I hope you enjoy our conversation today. Not only do we cover this important story, but we also talk storytelling with social purpose, we talk bias, privilege and using Rich’s film as a journalistic tribute to all those in search of safety.

Watch Rich's film here: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-man-who-fell-from-the-sky
Support the show (https://www.justgiving.com/prism-worldwidetribe)

31 episodes