Emergency Cargo Dump

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"Ohhh, I'll be gorrammed. That's where that cash went. I stole that money from Higgins just like the song says, lifted me one of his hovercraft. But I got tagged by anti-aircraft, started losing altitude. Had dump them strongboxes to stay airborne. Oh... 60,000, untraceable. And I drop it right square in the middle of mud-farmer central."
Jayne Cobb, Firefly, "Jaynestown"

Gravity Sucks, especially when you are on an aircraft or balloon and face engine failure. What can you do to prevent or at least delay a crash landing? Right, you jettison your cargo.

Emergency Cargo Dump describes incidents where characters throw objects away to decrease weight or decrease ballast. This may be to prevent a faltering plane from crashing or a leaky boat from sinking. It may also be to gain speed, if the characters are in The Big Race, or trying to outrace an enemy that is in Hot Pursuit. This last example could even include persons on foot who jettison the things they are carrying.

It is not unusual for a villain to Kick the Dog by announcing that this measure needs to be taken and immediately toss innocent people (or a trusted henchman) overboard.

Cargo deliberately thrown from a moving vehicle is called "jetsam", and is legally distinct from "flotsam", which is floating wreckage from a crashed plane or sinking ship.

See Cold Equation for similar situations where a human sacrifice is required. See Disposable Vehicle Section for cases where part of the vehicle itself is ejected. Bring My Brown Pants is a biological response to stress designed to lighten a body's load/cause a distraction for a quick getaway. Completely unrelated to Dramatic Drop.


Examples

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    Advertising 
  • Played for laughs in a Super Bowl Special commercial, where an airplane which has crashed on a Desert Island can take off but only if they lighten the load. They have to leave behind the cases and cases of tasty beer cargo. But they manage to Take a Third Option by removing the plane's fuselage, so now the beer can come with them.

     Anime and Manga 
  • In Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind, an engine-less cargo glider gets detached from its tow-plane during an enemy attack and starts to tank towards the ground where dangerous monster insects are located. In order to stop the sinking the crew start dumping all cargo from the glider.
  • Some Vikings in Vinland Saga start throwing their cargo overboard to keep from sinking. Since they're a slave ship, this ends up including one slave who was sick. Not quite an example of Cold Equation, given they could have thrown something else out, but the captain determined she was less valuable.

     Comic Books 
  • The G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero issue that introduces Bazooka, Crankcase, and the BATS sees one of the Cobra androids in a Stinger pursuing the A.W.E. Striker. The gun on the roof of the A.W.E. Striker has been unloaded, so Crankcase suggests getting rid of it to reduce weight. Bazooka takes off the gun and throws it at the BAT. The move decapitates the android. (However, Bazooka was only aiming for the radiator.)
  • Not so "emergency" as in "to take off in the first place": In the Johan and Peewit book "Le Pays Maudit", the heroes have captured the Big Bad, got his treasure and are about to take off riding his dragon, but find out they're too heavy. Johan says they have to abandon the treasure, Peewit says they should abandon the criminal instead, but Johan insists he be brought home and judged.

     Film - Animated 

     Film - Live Action 
  • In An American Werewolf in London, one of the East Proctor pub crowd tells a joke about a plane full of U.N. representatives that was faced with this dilemma.
  • In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Vulgarian thieves steal Grandpa's hut (with Grandpa in it) by towing it away on a hot air balloon, but soon start losing altitude from the weight of the hut. They resort to throwing out cargo, and when that doesn't work throw out the two spies that caught Grandpa in the first place. Said spies are left to tread water in the middle of the ocean, and actually make it back to shore in the climax.
  • Five Weeks in a Balloon. Near the end of the film a sword stuck in the balloon rips open the bag and causes a loss of hot air, resulting in the balloon starting to fall. The crew drops every non-essential object they can find overboard to maintain lift.
  • In Hell's Angels, the zeppelin bombing London is attacked by RAF fighters as it's headed back to Germany. The crew dump everything they can move out of the bomb gate in order to lighten the load and gain speed. When that isn't enough, the crewmembers themselves start jumping out the zeppelin to their deaths. A couple have to be pushed.
  • The Master of Laketown in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies escapes from Smaug's wrath on a boat full of treasure and a handful of servants. When they want to go faster, Alfrid suggests that they should throw out something or someone. The Master agrees and throws out Alfrid.
  • Parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux, where after the rescue mission, a couple of navy helicopters are used by soldiers and agents to escape from pursuit by Iraqi forces. When the pilot reports their chopper is carrying too much weight, there is an absurdist slapstick stunt as the heroes drop a grand piano on Saddam to lighten the chopper's load.
  • In Interstellar, the crew has to detach the robot TARS from the spaceship in order to escape gravity from the black hole.
  • Discussed / defied in Serenity. Zoe wonders why Mal refused to let a civilian tag along with them to escape a Reaver attack (Mal subsequently Mercy Killed him), and he says their hovercraft won't carry five. Zoe says they could've dumped the cargo, but Mal says they couldn't afford to fail this job.
  • Early on in Star Crash, Stella and Akton have to drop the cargo they're smuggling to escape the pull of a neutron star.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Jack Sparrow's crew is pursued by The Black Pearl and dumps their heaviest cargo overboard in order to outrun the Pearl. This backfires: the Pearl catches up to them anyway, forcing a fight, but some brilliant crewmember threw all the cannonballs overboard. They wind up stuffing whatever's on hand (like silverware) into the cannons and hoping for the best.
  • Everest (2015): When a medivac chopper is called in to get Beck off the mountain (well above where helicopters are supposed to fly) and to a hospital, they throw out everything they can get away with, including leaving the copilot behind, the make themselves as light as they can.
  • A variant shows up at the climax of The Martian. In order to make the orbital rendezvous with the Hermes, Mark Watney needs to strip the next mission's Mars Ascent Vehicle of just everything up to and including the roof to lighten the load. He takes this revelation from Mission Control about how you'd expect.
  • Michael Bay loves to weaponize the Emergency Cargo Dump in his car chases.
    • In Bad Boys II, the Haitians are chasing down Marcus' sister. One of the vehicles used by the Haitians is a stolen car-carrier, chock-full of cars - it doesn't take long for the obvious conclusion to happen.
    Marcus: Do you see that?!
    Mike: [Suddenly dodging obstacles] They're throwing cars, how do I not see that?
    • Two years later, The Island brings us Lincoln-Twelve, who finds himself riding on a flatbed trailer full of railroad axles while being pursued. Some undoing of the straps later, and the enemies pursuing him are suddenly playing high-speed Dodgeball.

    Literature 
  • In Around the World in 80 Days. Phileas Fogg and the ship he has commandeered are racing across the Atlantic to Liverpool. Unfortunately, the coal on the ship runs out. So Fogg buys the ship from the captain outright, and then has the crew burn the cargo for fuel. When that proved insufficient, they rip out just about everything on the vessel made of wood, and throw the wood in the furnace. By the time Fogg reaches England the ship is nothing but an iron hull above the waterline.
  • The Mysterious Island begins with the heroes in a hot-air balloon tossing everything heavy overboard to stay in the air. Strangely, they toss the tools out first before throwing their bag of money (in coins).
  • Played With in the short story "The Cold Equations''. When a girl stows away on a spaceship with limited fuel, the pilot considers whether enough of the ship's equipment can be dropped to allow her to stay on board. Unfortunately the ship was built so that every part is essential to its operations and none of it can be jettisoned.
  • A Doctor Who story has the Doctor and Martha travel in a hot air balloon with another guy to the North Pole. On the way there, the balloon starts sinking out of the air so they have to ditch their supplies overboard. It turns out, however, that the balloon was not falling out of the air due to its weight, but rather there was an alien lurking at the North Pole manipulating the balloon.
  • In Jingo, Vimes orders his men to throw out the ship's cargo so they can reach Al Khali faster. Detritus complies, discarding every loose object he can get his hands on. Like the anchor. And the ship's barometer. And the lifeboats. The captain of the ship, still sore about being blackmailed into letting Vimes commandeer his boat, doesn't stop him.
  • In Acts of the Apostles (a book of The Bible), a ship on which St. Paul is travelling encounters an extremely rough storm, and one of the measures the crew takes to try to survive is to dump the cargo overboard.
  • In the early sci-fi novel Hector Servadac, the greedy merchant is forced to dump all of his coin money so that the balloon can rise high enough to escape into the Earth's atmosphere as the comet they are on brushes past the Earth. He'd earlier declared that all paper money was worthless while they were on the comet and insisted on being paid only in coins.

     Live Action TV 
  • Contestants on The Amazing Race will often drop their bags as they race to the Pit Stop or Finish Line, if they think that they are in a footrace to either be first (usually a prize of some sort on the line) or next-to-last (the last team may be Eliminated From The Race).
  • Taken to an extreme in the Blake's 7 episode Orbit when Avon has to strip a shuttle of all its excess weight to prevent it from crashing. Even after jettisoning the super weapon he has spent the whole episode acquiring, the craft is still 73 kilos overladen. Then he learns that his colleague, Vila, weighs 70 kilos....Luckily for Vila, Avon discovers a speck of neutronium hidden on the vessel by the villain and throws that overboard instead.
  • In the Firefly episode "Jaynestown", Jayne explains that he once pulled a heist on Higgins' Moon, but then had to dump the cargo to stay airborne after he got hit by anti-aircraft fire, and the strongbox inadvertently landed in the indentured workers' Company Town causing Jayne to become a local hero. He neglects to mention he pushed his partner Stitch Hessian out first, and Magistrate Higgins sends the vengeful Stitch after him.
  • The Muppet Show had a few comical examples:
    • In one Muppet News segment, The Newsman reports that an airplane was forced to throw out some sports equipment, which falls on The Newsman. In another, an airplane was forced to throw out some musical instruments, leading to a piano falling on The Newsman.
    • In a Pigs in Space segment, the Swinetrek is losing power and Dr. Strangepork tells Link that they need to dump something the weight of one pig. Link considers dumping Miss Piggy.
  • Parodied in the Seinfeld episode, "The Bottle Deposit," where Kramer and Newman - driving a mail truck full of bags of empty soda cans and bottles to turn them in for refunds - find Tony the mechanic driving Jerry's stolen car. They tail him, but he seems to be slipping away, so to gain speed, Kramer decides to lighten the truck by dumping out all their bags of cans and bottles, much to Newman's horror. Finally, Kramer still feels they're too heavy, so he manages to kick Newman out of the truck and press on; then, he gains speed.

     Music 
  • The Doors track Horse Latitudes was inspired by Jim Morrison reading about historical cases of cargo-dumping. specifically, Spanish ships caught in the windless Doldrums and becalmed for long periods. Unable to move and fast running out of drinkable water, if they were carrying live cargo this would be jettisoned. Morrison was moved at the horses so dumped, so as to ease pressure on limited resources.
    The first animal is jettisoned,
    Legs furiously pumping their stiff green gallop!

     Radio 
  • In The Space Gypsy Adventures, on at least two occasions Gemma and Damien had to dump their illicitly-acquired cargo to decrease the Rapscallions mass and distract the coppers chasing them.

     Video Games 
  • In Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Drake fights terrorists on a cargo plane that he snuck aboard on from Elena's jeep. They become rather difficult to fight so Drake ends up opening the cargo hatch making everything and everybody fly out including him!

    Webcomics 
  • During the attack on Mechanicsburg in Girl Genius, an airship crew realizes that the city's anti-aircraft defences are still operational. They begin frantically throwing everything they can overboard in an effort to gain altitude. This eventually includes their employer, who threatened to have them all killed for running away. Unfortunately for them, climbing only puts them in the sights of the approaching Castle Wulfenbach.

     Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • In the episode, "Launchpad's First Crash", Launchpad informs Scrooge they'll have to jettison some of the cargo to take off. Scrooge tries to jettison anything but the diamonds, including Launchpad!
    • In the episode, "A Whale of a Bad Time", Donald destroys the steering mechanism of Dr. Bluebottle's killer whale-shaped submarine, causing it to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Scrooge manages to get the sub to float to the surface pulling the lever that ejects half his fortune stored there.
  • Family Guy: In one episode, the Griffins compete in a boat race against Carter, racing in a small tub boat against Carter's bigger boat. In order to get ahead, they toss out all of their clothes (except for their underwear and bras), and when they need to go faster, they toss out Meg.
  • In Futurama's episode Godfellas, Bender tries to slow down his drifting through space by dumping excess weight. So he starts throwing off the swag he picked up from the Space Pirates.
  • Parodied in the I Am Weasel episode, "I.M. Bush Pilot." After delivering hundreds of babies in midflight, the sudden additional passengers weigh the plane down, causing Weasel to lose altitude, so Baboon works to lighten the plane; he throws out Red Guy (who was the stewardess), various crates of cargo, a two-ton man named Tom, and even tries chopping the tail of the plane off. In the end, however, Weasel manages to make an emergency landing in the very lake he was flying his passengers to.
  • The Megas XLR episode "All I Wanted was a Smoothie" begins when Megas crashes into a cloaked ship that was supposed to dump R.E.G.I.S. Mk V into a black hole, forcing them to eject their cargo onto Earth.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Last Train To Bustville" , Candace does like Phileas Fogg did in Around the World in 80 Days, with a train on its last run that the engineer wanted to make go to the top of a hill.
  • In the Rocky and Bullwinkle storyarc "The Treasure of Monte Zoom", when a flying Rocky chases after Boris and Natasha in a car, and gains on them, Boris orders Natasha to throw out everything that's loose. After throwing everything they're aware of and Rocky is still catching up, Natasha finds gold coins in the trunk, and Boris reluctantly orders her to toss them out, which marks an improvement in speeding up away from Rocky.
    • In "Mooselvania Saved", Boris and Natasha manage to steal several goods that were donated to Mooselavia, putting them all on a raft. They get to Fearless Leader's ship, and Fearless Leader rewards Boris with a small medal. Unfortunately, this one medal causes the raft to start sinking. Fearless Leader tells Boris that if he tosses the goods or lets them sink, he'll get shot, and if he tosses the medal, he'll get shot ("at least I've got a choice!"). We never see which choice Boris makes, we only hear the sound effect of a shot.
    • In the Ruby Yacht arc, Rocky and Bullwinkle escape from their captors and hide in a life boat. Then the captain of the ship declares that they need to lose some weight, so they have to throw a life boat overboard. Guess which one gets picked.
  • The Simpsons: When Mr. Burns steals some paintings out from under Grandpa and flees in a motorboat, Grandpa & Bart chase after in a boat of their own. Mr. Burns has Smithers toss stuff overboard to lighten the load so they can go faster. After everything has been tossed overboard (with the exception of the paintings) Burns gives Smithers a look. Smithers salutes Burns, saying "It has been an honor," and tosses himself overboard.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, an underwater Picnic service airplane is losing altitude, so they release the cargo. It lands perfectly arranged in the forest where SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward are lost.
  • This happened in quite a few episodes of TaleSpin. The characters were often in danger of crashing and unloading their cargo was sometimes the go-to response. This got them in trouble with their boss a few times.
  • Filmation Teen Titans episode "The Space Beast Round-Up". An alien ship in trouble enters the Earth's atmosphere. The captain orders that all non-essential equipment and cargo be jettisoned so they can lose weight and gain altitude. Unfortunately the cargo includes three dangerous alien creatures, and it's the Teen Titans' job to retrieve them.
  • Towards the end of the Thomas the Tank Engine special, "Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure", Sailor John steals the lost pirate treasure and he and his railboat, Skiff, sail away with it. When they take on water, the weight of the treasure causes Skiff to sink. Skiff tells Sailor John to throw it overboard, but being the Bad Boss he is, Sailor John refuses, and orders Skiff to keep sailing anyway. Skiff responds by knocking both Sailor John and the treasure into the sea.
  • Towards the end of the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "No Toon Is an Island", Buster, Babs, Hamton, and Plucky leave an island with a hoard of treasure and a giant bird. Their boat soon starts overflowing with water, and Buster declares that they need to throw something overboard. Plucky is about to throw the bird off the deck of the ship, but the others instead throw the treasure out into the sea, despite Plucky's protest.
  • In the Wacky Races episode, "Free Wheeling to Wheeling", the Anthill Mob speeds their car, the Bullet-Proof Bomb, up by tossing their ill-gotten gains (stolen money, machine guns, etc) out of it. They win the race as a result.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Fish and Chumps", Rocko realizes that the fishing trip he's taking with his friends has Gone Horribly Wrong, and suggests that they leave quickly. He and Filburt throw everything they brought with them overboard...and Heffer gets carried away and throws out the boat's motor. Luckily, they are saved by the Giant Squid who had become obsessed with their cheese bait.

     Real Life 
  • Airplanes that have to make an emergency landing often dump fuel to lighten the load (the weight differential between full and empty tanks is a factor in landing) and/or reduce risk of fire.
  • Common in Real Life in World War II.
    • Bombers over Germany, if hit or crippled, routinely threw out everything they could to lighten the load and make it easier for a plane under reduced power to return home. Surplus equipment, ripped-up internal fittings, anything that would make the load lighter. In one case, a damaged gun turret too shot-up to be used was hacked away and allowed to fall (the wounded gunner was carried home, though).
    • Australian night bombers routinely emptied their on-board chemical toilets over German targets, claiming they were reducing load for the return flight. Nazi Germany complained under the Geneva Convention that the British were using illegal chemical weapons. The complaint was upheld!
  • Ships typically carry a supply of weight known as a Ballast, used to help maintain the ship's balance and draft in the water with varying loads of cargo and fuel. For ocean-going ships, this is typically seawater (since it is plentifully available), for airships and balloons, sandbags and other solid weights might be used instead to help control altitude. In an emergency, an airship could release their ballast to lighten the weight and slow their descent.
    • A Submarine, meanwhile, uses ballast as it's primary depth control, and can either release it or intake it slowly to gradually ascend and descend, or quickly in order to sprint to the surface (known as an "Emergency Blow") or to dive away from danger (known as a "Crash Dive"). These emergency maneuvers can themselves be dangerous due to A) Being about as stealthy as dropping a ship into the ocean, that is, not very, and B) the risk of the sub crashing into something unseen (as has happened in the past). Further, if the sub's hatches are not properly secured, a sudden crash dive could quickly turn into an unplanned scuttling.

     Other 
  • In the Latin textbook Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata Pars I: Familia Romana, a merchant is quite distressed when the his goods are thrown overboard during a storm. Later the merchant squabbles with the helmsman who gave the order, with the helmsman arguing that the lives of those aboard, including the merchant and his family, are more valuable than the merchandise, and the merchant feeling that, without his fortune, his life is no longer worth living.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EmergencyCargoDump