Massport Investigating Whether Teen Fell From Plane

BOSTON (CBS) — Massport is being asked to look at landing patterns at Logan Airport, and how they may relate to the discovery of a teenager’s body in Milton last week. It’s part of an investigation into the remote possibility that the North Carolina teen may have fallen from a plane.

Delvonte Tisdale, a 16-year-old ROTC student from Charlotte, NC, was reported missing last week. His mangled body was found on Brierbrook Street.

According to Massport spokesman Phil Orlandella, Massport head Tom Kinton asked employees to look into what planes may have been flying over the area the night Tisdale was found. The area is within the approach path for runway 4R at Logan. Orlandella did not say who asked Kinton for the information.

There was a flight from Charlotte that did land in Boston around the same time Tisdale’s body was found. The flight landed at 9:55 p.m. Tisdale’s body was found around 9:30 p.m.

WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields reports.

The FAA would not comment on investigation. They would only release the following statement: “This office has received no request from Massport or police to assist with the investigation. Nothing has changed from our perspective.

“If they want it (flight data information) we will do it and give them the information.”

The Norfolk District Attorney’s office would not talk directly about the Massport investigation, saying only that they are “investigating every possibility regarding how Delvonte Tisdale came to be found dead on Brierbrook Street.”

The key evidence in identifying Tisdale’s body proved to be a note found in his pocket. The school hall pass had a name appearing to read ‘Delonte Tisdale’ scrawled on it. No student by that name lived in Milton or nearby Boston.

Detectives were finally able to identify Tisdale by matching fingerprints. An autopsy found no obvious sign of stab or gunshot wounds, and did not establish a cause of death.

Tisdale was a high school sophomore at North Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte.

  • mark

    Your going to be about 800 to 1500 ft on aproach over milton to land on 4R. It sounds as though the landing may have crushed him on takeoff. Then when the landing gear deployed his body fell out..

    • Bing Crosby

      800 to 1500 ft what? You must mean HIGH. And how does a plane land and take off at the same time?

      • The Best

        Hey shakespear,

        When the plane tookoff from the previous airport the gear was raised and crushed him, killing him. Then when you get to the destination the crew puts the gear down and the body falls out.

  • Cynic

    What is so puzzling is what is the connection between NC and Boston….There doesn’t seem to be one…..Hiding in the wheelwell of a plane could explain it.If this is the case and considering other incidents of this type ,one has to wonder why with all the time spent on Body scanners and pat downs of legitimate passengers access to the flight line is so easy.

  • Cynic

    Also that area of Milton is about where a Plane would put down its landing gear on final approach.

  • Michelle

    If this young man could get into the wheelwell of this aircraft…why aren’t we more concerned about people getting on planes illegally? All of this controversy about body scanning or being frisked is irrellevant if people are allowed to get into wheelwells of planes.

  • Bubba

    Ok Bing…let me explain further: Mark meant that at that point in the approach sequence for runway 4Left, your altitude is between 800 and 1500 feet AGL (above ground level). He further meant to say, that when the plane took off, the young man was crushed by the landing gear. Contrary to what many people think, there isn’t room in the landing gear wheel well to stow away. When the plane took off, and the landing gear was retracted, the pistons and support structure crushed the poor kid right where he was clinging.

    Then, as the plane approached Boston, and locked onto the ILS (Instrument Landing System) signal for runway 4 right, the pilot lowered his landing gear. This released the poor kids body to free fall to earth.

    Even if the landing gear didn’t crush him, the lack of pressurization in the wheel wells, coupled with 30 degrees below zero temperature at 30,000 feet would have.

  • Bubba

    The bigger concern here, as voiced by Michelle, is how he got into the wheel well space in the first place. When a plane is cleared to taxi from the gate, the ground crew climbs beneath the plane and performs a few basic tasks: The wheel chocks are removed, the Tug (small trams that push and pull large aircraft backwards) is connected to the nose gear, and the APU (Auxilliary Power Unit) is disconnected from the aircraft. The crew then checks again to be sure all connections are removed, the cargo doors are al secure, nothing is hanging loose, and then they disconnect their intercommunications headset from the aircraft (through which they speak to the pilot) and give the pilot control of the aircraft to taxi.

    All of this happens while the wheel wells are in clear sight. It is very puzzling how he hid there…if in fact, he was there.

    • JW

      all very true facts, except that the APU isnt “disconnected” so to speak it is a part of the aircraft.

      • flyinghigh8a

        The APU is part of the aircraft. I think he meant the GPU

      • rosie

        both APU nad GPU can be attached from an aux source. therefore it needs to be disconnected. the wheel wells are a good size esp. if the person is smaller. Someone has to actually put ther ehead in ther eto inspect for a person hiding otherwise they can go unnoticed.

  • Tyler

    People attempting to stow away in wheel weels aren’t a big security concern in and of themselves because the person will most likely be crushed to death as the gears retract. If they somehow avoid that, then the extreme cold reached at aircraft altitudes will do them in, and even if it somehow didn’t, the lack of oxygen would kill them. This would not be the first time something like this has happened.

    The part that’s actually relevant to airport security is how he got so close to a plane with no one noticing.

    Also, to Bubba, an Auxiliary Power Unit is part of the internal workings of an aircraft and is never removed (unless you’re doing some seriously heavy maintenance). The cord you’re referring to is the Ground Power Unit (GPU), which is the cart used to provide power to the aircraft while on the ground. It requires much less fuel than running the APU.

    But yes this kid must have been hidden crazy well for the ground crew not to see him while removing the chocks. Then again I’m sure they weren’t exactly looking for someone to be up there…

  • dan

    us airways flight 1776. look it up, i guarantee you this kid fell out of that plane.

  • Ellen

    How did the police come to the conclusion that this kid fell out of a plane?

    • Dave

      I don’t think the police “came to the conclusion”. They just have no other explanation at this time. They’ll be able to find trace evidence such as grease, oil, and metals on the body if that’s what happened. From reading the story that might be the way they came to suspect he was a stow-away. Jus a thought.

  • Chris

    Ellen —> “His mangled body was found on Brierbrook Street” It must have looked like he fell from high place.

  • Ellen

    Thanks Chris. But at first they said that someone had deliberately done this and were looking all over town for cars that resemble those who were in the neighborhood at the time. I was just wondering when and how did the police come to the conclusion that Tisdale fell out of a plane. Very interesting to say the least.

    • Chris

      this is going to be an interesting case for sure.

  • mikey

    Bizarre, to say the least.

  • Joanie

    What sort of information are they getting from NC? Is there anyone who can give information as to where he was going, why, what, who. I haven’t heard any investigation going on the NC side.


  • jh

    I’m w/ Tyler & Dan. They’re both dead on right.

  • Cynic

    Our information comes mostly from the Media.The Police are confronted with a situation and have to consider all the posibilities.The Media will grab one facet such as a white car and run with it.One has to take the Media with a grain of Salt.

    • Carlos

      Right, the most probable thing is that it was a murder. On the other hand, who can think into travelling as stowaway in the landing gear wheel??? It is not pressurized, so it has very few oxygen at cruising altitude, and they have to deal with the extreme cold of the high altitudes!!


    Just remember – please be respectful with your comments and patient. A family in Charlotte is dealing with this tragedy.

  • Chris

    They said he wanted to get to Baltimore, so he might have been on a plane going from CLT to BWI and then onto Boston…and was deceased on the way up to Baltimore. Does US 1776 have that routing?

  • Mike

    Who would hide in a wheel well?

  • wilbur wright

    Back in the dat when Orville and I were working on our plane we once had this problem with our pet squirrel. Fortunately it was a flying squirrel and there wasn’t a problem we he bailed out in mid-flight. As regards this case, I’m somewhat skeptical that this young man could have crossed a busy tarmac and climbed into a wheel well without having been detected. Tthe boy’s body was found 10 miles from logan airport around 9:30 pm while the average touch down time for US Air flight 1776 is 9:44 pm.

  • Norwood

    If this is what happened I hope they get a good look at the security implications downstream.

    Sounds like this kid came from a good home. Perhaps a bad decision in thinking he could survive such a trip. Some have but at lower altitudes and warmer climates.

  • Mike S.

    If someone can get to the wheel well without being caught, he could plant a device there that could later activate even if he doesn’t climb in himself. Access is the critical issue here.

  • Just Sayin

    If he stowed away on that flight then the evidence will obviously prove or disprove this. timelines of flight coupled with the tracking of the young man’s phone could show that he was at the airport in NC just prior to that departure flight and if that’s the case then he could not have possibly gotten from NC to Boston without a plane ride. Of course he would’ve had to have been in possession of a phone but most people seem to be.

  • ChrisP

    The ME should easily be able to tell if his corps had been frozen – even if only partially – as it would have been if he had been in the gear well from CLT to BOS.

  • rosie

    Chris , I hought the same thing. Maybe his body had signs of eing frozen and had some sort of grease on it. The autopsy report was inconclusive and they could not determine actual cause of death.

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