The 16-year-old Santa Clara, Calif., boy who hopped a fence onto the tarmac at Mineta San Jose International Airport to hitch a ride in the wheel well of a Hawaii-bound jetliner did us all a favor. We’re just glad he beat the odds and, miraculously, was still alive when the plane landed on Maui.

While parents of their own rebellious teens were struck cold by the tale for fear of copycats, the rest of us immediately thought: terrorists. If the kid could get onto the runway and into a wheel well overnight, why not a guy planting a bomb?

That’s where the favor comes in. The porous security was exposed without anybody getting hurt, let alone killed.

San Jose’s airport officials say they meet all the federal standards for security — which means the warning is not just for San Jose but for all U.S. airports. High fences, some barbed wire and video cameras might seem like enough to keep people out or at least make sure they get caught. But clearly they’re not.

SJC covers more than 1,000 acres, and it’s a relatively small airport. Imagine the perimeter at Chicago’s O’Hare. Of course the smaller expanse might make it a quicker run from the perimeter fence to the airplanes, but still. The word is out now that this is possible, so there’s a new urgency to tightening security.

Thank the young interloper. Who, by the way, is about to encounter a whole new meaning of being grounded.

Editorial by the San Jose Mercury News

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