The South African kid, now known as Justin, talks for the first time in a Channel 4 documentary about his friend Carlito Vale, who died after dropping 430 meters.
A South African man who had survived an 11-hour flight from Johannesburg to London after hiding in a plane’s landing gear spoke of the last words he had exchanged with a friend whose body had dropped off the same British Airways flight he was planning to land at Heathrow: “He said, ‘We made it,’ and then I passed out from lack of oxygen,” said the man then known as Themba, who spoke publicly for the plane. The young Mozambican migrant who came with him died of multiple injuries after dropping 430 meters from the plane in June 2015, while surviving and living in Liverpool for five years, where he goes by the name Justin. The man who died was named Carlito Vale in the Guardian in 2016, who grew up in an orphanage in Beira, Mozambique’s second-largest city, and went to Uganda and South Africa before attempting to find a new life in London. Justin told the Guardian that the men had prepared to hide on a BA flight on the Johannesburg runway by researching aircraft designs in a book. This week, in a Channel 4 documentary called The Man Who Fell from the Sky, his story and Vale’s will be revealed. We were thinking we could go to Delta, but we were thinking, let’s get a shorter [flight]… Let’s take one to London,” Justin said. Neither had any idea how dangerous their plan was. While it has long been assumed that the men may have had help from inside to gain access to the airport, he insists they did it on their own, jumping fences and putting on layers of clothing to prepare. “I was not far from the plane. When it was spinning, you could feel it outside,” he told the documentary filmmakers. He sustained burns after wrapping his arms through the wiring, which ultimately prevented him from falling out. “The only thing he remembers is waking up with a broken leg on the runway in London,” he said. Vale and Justin, who grew up in a poor township in Johannesburg and suffered gang violence while living on the streets, had dreamed of a fresh start in Europe. Vale planned to bring his family members over from Mozambique after a few years. ” He said he wanted to be a DJ and that he wanted to go back and get his daughter after a few years,” Justin said. “He recalled the moment he woke up in a hospital bed when a picture of Vale was revealed to him by police investigators. “When the plane landed, I fell out and remember thinking Carlito must still be inside,” he said. But then they showed me the passport later and asked, ‘Do you know this guy?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ They told me that he didn’t make it, and I was shocked. “But then later they showed me the passport and said, ‘Do you know this guy?’ ‘ I said, ‘Yeah.’ They told me he didn’t make it, and I was shocked. ” “I find it easy here because people are gentle and nice,” documentary filmmaker Rich Bentley says in the film after they first meet in Liverpool on a street corner. “Everyone has their own situation and they leave because of something that happens around them,” he says, as immigration makes news again with the deaths of people in small boats crossing the Channel. The Man Who Fell from the Sky is on Channel 4, 10 p.m. Jan. 4, Monday.