Not Pictured: Childhood-destroying aftermath
"Stratogale: April 23rd, '57. Cape caught in a jet turbine."
Like Helicopter Blender
but with running jet engines. The key difference is that a living being is sucked into a jet engine and doesn't come out in pieces afterwards (unless those pieces are really, really
tiny) — it gets reduced to a Pink Mist
. Likewise, a non-living object comes out in tiny shiny shreds.
Very definitely a Truth in Television
, as the jet engines most people are familiar with are the high-bypass turbofan engines on commercial airliners, which draw in a tremendous volume of air
and thus produce hurricane-force winds in the region near the engine inlet. The spinning item at the very front of the engine is a very-unforgiving ducted fan made of titanium blades spinning at thousands of RPM, which will rapidly render an animal as large as a person into something akin to liquefied beef
. Ground crew that must work near active jet engines must keep anything not tied down (including themselves) some tens of meters away, outside the hazard zone, or else risk being drawn into the engine.
Any type of foreign object that strikes an aircraft (either the airframe or the engines) and damages it is called foreign object damage
, of which the most typical type are "bird strikes"
, although ice/hail damage is also common. To a certain limit, airliners must be able to strike birds, and engines must be able to ingest birds, without causing the airframe or engine to fail. In the case of engines, this means the engine must be able to be struck by a bird up to a particular size, blend it, and pass it out the exhaust (usually by bypassing the engine's core) all without damaging the engine to the point it loses function. In essence, part of the purpose of the fandisk is specifically designed
to blend objects, if only to protect the rest of the engine. It's worth pointing out that an airliner is also intended to be capable of a controlled landing with one of its engines non-functional (assuming it doesn't explode
or anything), so even a larger impact might be survivable, but it's still a risk no one wants to take. In fact, larger birds such as geese have been known to damage airliner engines to the point of failure (as with the US Airways Flight 1549
incident in 2009). This is where the trope tends to deviate from reality, as typically when it is used the jet engines continue functioning with no problem whatsoever after consuming a full-sized human or more.
Note that the turbofan (jet) engine is so called because it contains a turbine (at the very back of the engine) which turns a fan (at the very front of the engine). The bladed disk at the front of the engine is a fan, not a turbine.
Fun fact: the scientific term for remnants-of-bird from bird strike is "snarge"
, as it was probably the cleanest word to come out of the mouth of the first jet-engine mechanic to encounter it.
Might happen to some superheroes that fly a little too close to a plane
. Especially when wearing a cape.
Subtrope of Deadly Rotary Fan
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Anime & Manga
- The fourth episode of Mnemosyne, where Rin gets mulched in a jet engine. She gets better...after 20 years of regenerating. And comes back with amnesia.
- In PS238, Captain Clarinet starts out with a pathological fear of flying, due to having repeated nightmares of being sucked into a jet-engine. It doesn't particularly improve matters when Zodon 'helpfully' reminds him that his invulnerability ensures that, should that happen, he'd come out on the other side unscattered... while the plane plummets to the ground in flames with the passengers aboard.
- ...And then Zodon plays a 'practical joke' on him that results in it happening in real life. It backfires spectacularly in that it ends up curing the good captain of his phobia instead of compounding it when is forced to use his flight to put the damaged plane down safely.
- In one of the first issues of her third series, She-Hulk (as Jen Walters) and her associate Mallory Book are investigating the death of a man who got sucked into a jet engine. As they're looking around the test lab, someone switches the engine on and seals the lab so the two can't escape. Jen figures at the last minute that if she hulks out and shields Book with her body they'll make it through the blades alive. They do, but both their suits are shredded.
- Attracted by Steve's courage, Man-Thing's threat to the cast of Micronauts ends when he steps in the blades of a swamp buggy and his muck-encrusted form splatters around the swamp.
Film — Animated
- In The Incredibles, during the "no capes" montage in which Stratogale is flying by a jetliner and waves at a kid only to be sucked into the engine when her cape gets caught. The poor kid must have been scarred for life, assuming that the engine damage didn't cause the plane to crash and kill everyone on board.
- The Big Bad suffers the same fate at the end of the movie. In his case, the engine explodes (a cockpit warning alarm was briefly heard after the heroine was ingested).
- In 9 it's how The Winged Beast gets dispatched.
Film — Live Action
- In the Night Watch Film of the Book, a crow flies into a airplane engine, causing a severe accident the protagonists have to deal with.
- Subverted and played for laughs in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace: a Pit Droid is sucked into what looks a lot like a jet engine at a pit stop, which utterly destroys said engine and puts the pilot of the craft out of the podrace. Not only does the sucked-in pit droid ruin the engine, it also gets spat out the other end, with no apparent damage at all.
- Sebulba, being the dirty cheater he is, pulls out a hydrospanner or somesuch tool from his pod's glovebox and throws it behind him. It hits the engine of one of his pursuers and is promptly sucked in, tearing the craft apart.
- Happens to Major Grant in Die Hard 2. He gets plenty of time to slowly lose his grip, too.
- Variation: In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, a mook falls into the path of a roadway snow blower. Bond One-Liner: "He sure had a lot of guts."
- Also happens to Gustav Graves in Die Another Day. It destroys the engine, and the plane eventually goes down, although it was already very badly damaged by that point.
- Flight of the Living Dead has this happen to the "boss" zombie (who used to be the unethical scientist who caused the whole mess) when the emergency door is opened. The Stinger shows him to be not quite dead.
- A Mook in Captain America: The First Avenger is taken out by the propeller of a flying bomb; unusually for a superhero film, there's no Gory Discretion Shot and everything is shown right on screen.
- Unusually, in Eraser the antagonist and his mooks manage to get the plane back on the ground in one piece, smoking turbine and all.
- In The Avengers, Iron Man repairs one of the Helicarrier's turbines and gets caught in it as it restarts. He makes it out in one piece, though his armor is pretty chewed up and it's retired for the next model soon afterward. His whimper of "uh oh" as he's flattened against the accelerating blade behind him and the subsequent clanging and screeching as he's repeatedly battered and dragged around by the blades is side-splittingly hilarious.
- During the 'Dragon' sequence in Sucker Punch, one of the orcs tries to smash its way into the cockpit of the plane. Amber shoots him in the face and he loses his grip: falling into the prop where he is turned into a fine grey mist.
- In Raiders of the Lost Ark Indy fights a Giant Mook next to a Nazi flying wing whose engines are running. Its wheels become un-chocked during the fight and it starts to rotate around. Indy dives for cover, Giant Mook looks behind himself, and cue Gory Discretion Shot.
- In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Winter Soldier punts a S.H.I.E.L.D. technician into a Quinjet engine, which explodes.
- At the beginning of Sharknado 2: The Second One, this happens to a shark as the plane Fin and April are on is flying through the storm. This starts a chain of events that results in Fin being forced to make an emergency landing after the pilots are killed.
- Played with in The Thing (2011). Two of our heroes are walking across the hull of a huge Flying Saucer when it starts to power up and they realise they're standing on the air intake vents, which start flicking one-by-one to a vertical position. They run like hell for the hatch, but the woman doesn't make it in time and falls screaming into a vent. She wakes up unharmed inside the spaceship however, and the incident only serves to split them up in the kind of horror movie where that trope is an even more bad idea than usual.
- Eagle Strike had the insane pop star turned into Pink Mist. The metal cart that he was on, however, causes it to explode.
- In the non-fiction book Aftermath, the author describes the process of cleaning an airplane's engines after this happens. Unfortunately, the incident described in the book involves a human being- an airport employee killed during routine maintenance. The engine has to be disassembled and every piece cleaned by hand by a specialist crew in biohazard suits. It takes two weeks.
- In one Animorphs book, an enemy helicopter is equipped with a tracking device that proves very dangerous to the Animorphs. In the middle of a plan to destroy the helicopter, the Animorphs get lucky enough that a seagull gets sucked into the helicopter's turbine, and the helicopter blows up.
- The Big Bad of Seven Ancient Wonders dies by getting thrown into the jet engine of a 747. Or, more accurately, getting pulled in by his safety rope getting thrown into the engine.
- Flight of the Intruder features a near-miss. It eerily parallels the real-life event below, as it also involves an A-6 Intruder and the unfortunate mechanic also has the stroke of luck of being hung up before his head hit the blades.
Live Action TV
- Happens to one of the passengers in the beginning of LOST.
- MythBusters showed that an airplane propeller can cut metal to ribbons.
- Happened to Air Colbert in real life, putting her out of commission for a while.
- In Firefly, Mal kicks a thug into his Cool Ship's running turbine after the man threatens to hunt Mal down and kill him. The next thug immediately agrees to Mal's offered terms.
- Later in the series, said thug's boss comes after them for revenge. Jayne mentions he might sore over having his Dragon thrown into a starship engine.
- He refers back to this in a deleted scene from Serenity, where he jokes to The Operative that if the latter doesn't stop pondering philosophical questions and get out of the way of Serenity's take-off, "you never will find out".
- One of the CSI episodes had a chopped up victim who turned out to have been pushed into one.
- The X-Files. In the first season episode "Roland" an engineer is murdered by being sucked into a turbine engine he was developing.
- Happened on Bones, where the victim of the week was accidentally pushed into a running turboprop propeller.
- Air Crash Investigation: In the episode on United 811, it's mentioned that human remains were found in the right inboard engine.
- Invoked then Averted on JAG. Rabb attempted to sabotage a stolen F-14 with his belt, only to find that it was intentionally lost to plant a computer virus. He then had to sneak back in and remove the belt so the plane remained intact.
- The Far Side had a bird reporting on a plane crash, with a caption something like: "Details are sketchy, but we have heard that the name of the bird sucked into the jet's engines was Harold Meeker."
- Near the beginning of the Cabin Pressure episode "St. Petersburg", one of GERTI's engines is destroyed by a bird strike. The rest of the episode revolves around how perpetually impoverished MJN Air manages to get a replacement engine.
- The first Bloodbath Challenge in MadWorld is the Turbinator, which is about throwing mooks into a gigantic turbine to reduce them to bloody clouds. Probably justified, since the turbine was likely modified specifically for the event and is larger than any normal turbine.
- Saints Row 2's "Crowd Control" diversion has you protecting celebrities from their crazed fans by picking them up and throwing them into various hazards, among which the still-running turbine of a jet plane.
- In Terranigma, Beruga tries to pull a Villain Exit Stage Left after the heroes send his flying fortress to crash, but his jetpack malfunctions and he gets sucked into a propeller. The screen fades to black while he's giving his death speech which doesn't even finish.
- In Dead Space 2, a player can optionally choose to destroy the otherwise invincible Hunter by shooting it back into a turbine. Because the player is running to complete a Timed Mission, though, it's unlikely to be seen.
- In Dead Space 3, you face multiple regenerating Necromorphs towards the end of the space segment of the game, where you can use a set of big guns to knock them into turbines to finally kill them.
- In MechWarrior Living Legends, battlearmor players attempting to ride on the Hawkmoth VTOL are relatively safe if they ride on the wings and the pilot is careful. Woe be to battlearmor players that stand near the Hawkmoth's central turbine as the pilot is throttling up, as it has a tendency to shred the battlearmor into a fine red mist.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, this is the unfortunate fate of Molly Schultz; when she realizes that Michael is chasing after her, she (understandably) freaks out, and in her panicked attempt to get away runs in front of an active jet engine. The player is then treated to a lovely view of Molly salsa spraying out of the back of the engine.
- In Amateur Surgeon: Christmas Edition, moronic surgical genius Alan Probe accidentally flies his private jet right into Santa Claus' sleigh, and one of the reindeer is ground up in one of the turbines, causing him to crash.
- In Dead Rising 3, a plane crashes, and some zombies get sucked into the engines.
- Happens at least one in Happy Tree Friends.
- Happens in a Cutaway Gag on Nameless, where Cripple Boy's obsession with LOST led him to a plane crash that he survives... until he gets sucked into the engine and comes out in blood splatters.
- Ruby-Spears Mega Man has one of these in the first episode. Subverted in that it only flings Protoman out the other side—into a brick wall. This is justified in that Protoman is an extremely well built robot. Harder to explain is that he neither gets stuck nor tears fan blades and other shrapnel out of the engine.
- Played for Laughs in The Simpsons: After Totally-Not-Mary-Poppins leaves the Simpsons via magic parasol, Homer is asked if they'll ever see her again, and he says he's sure they will. A few seconds afterwards, while the family is looking the other way, she get sucked into a jet turbine.
- In one of the episodes of the final season of I Am Weasel, I.R. Baboon tries to jump onto a grounded (but still moving) airplane after rescuing a cat from a tree. He gets caught in the engine and shredded. The engine then catches flames and causes the airplane to skid onto a hill in the background, where it explodes.
- Subverted by the titular hero at the end of one episode of Underdog, where during his Every Episode Ending speech he somehow flies into the engine of a flying jet plane, and moments later he crawls out of where he went in, unharmed, and finishes his speech.
- Just one of the means in which Hank and Dean manage to get themselves killed.
- In addition to bird strikes (which are quite common, according to FAA documents released in April 2009), there have been a handful of cases where a human body has gone into a jet engine, with the results being just as gory as you would expect. The engines in these cases are invariably disabled.
- United 811, 24 Feb 1989 — Explosive Decompression caused by a failed cargo door lock sucked nine passengers through a hole in the side of the plane, at least one of whom fell through an engine.
- Continental 1515 ran up its right-hand engine for a maintenance check and ate an engineer (NSFW -- Gore) who was standing too close.
- During a training flight in a BAE Hawk, the single-engine plane ingested a bird, causing the engine to fail. Pilot and trainer ejected, both survived with varying injuries. See it here.
- Awesomely subverted in the Miracle on the Hudson (January 15, 2009), where US Airways Flight 1549 was losing altitude due to a bird strike, but the pilot managed to land the plane on the Hudson River without a single passenger or crew member dying and even walked the cabin twice to make sure no one was still inside.
- Awesomely subverted in Real Life by (former) Petty Officer J.D. Bridges during the Gulf War. This is the guy who was famously sucked into the intake of an A6 Intruder's jet engine — and survived. Turns out he got wedged inside the intake, just in front of the turbine, and his helmet/clothing destroyed the delicate internal fan of the engine before it could kill him.
- Most jet aircraft (unfortunately, not airliners) have long intake ducts with guide vanes and other obstructions. These are designed to keep the airflow to the engine regular (ducts often have odd shapes and twists that disrupt the flow, which is bad for the engine) but might serve to catch an article of clothing.
- Astronaut Ted Freeman, who died when a goose was sucked into the intake of his T-38 training aircraft. He ejected, but was too close to the ground for his chute to properly open.
- In the early 1950s in the Soviet Union, an early-production MiG-15 ate a test pilot. Because of the MiG's "pig nose" intake design, it was an extremely messy scene. The commander wanted to bury the plane to cover it up and give the pilot a "decent" funeral, but some objected and recommended to clean and reuse the MiG. However, the mechanics were too disgusted to take the plane apart, so in the end the wings, tail, guns and parts of the cockpit was salvaged and the rest was buried along with the bloody mess that was what was left of the poor guy.
- Averted (luckily, to present day) at Beauvais Airport north of Paris, France. Due to the design of the terminal building (large glass-panelled hall with no installations outside, designed originally for smaller propeller planes), people have to embark or disembark the plane just in front of the building, while the next airliner taxies to its parking spot 10-20 meters away under its own (reduced, just above idle) jet power. Until now, no jet engine has yet swallowed a hat, purse, bag or unfortunate passenger.
- Real jet turbines are actually tested by firing the carcass of a bird into the running engine to see if it can withstand the force. The carcass is sometimes frozen, but usually not. An urban myth revolves around some idiots forgetting to thaw frozen birds.
- Many fighter jet hangers have Danger zones marked under the parking jets, To make sure technicians don't become this trope. Example of such setup◊: note the yellow fan marked on the ground.
- There's a story of one poor sap that was just in the wrong place at the wrong time as an E-2 Hawkeye approached him from behind. Fellow crew members tried to warn him to the approaching blades of death, but he turned around just in time to get out the "oh" in Oh, Crap before the Hamilton Standard Propellers turned him into Yellow-Shirt Hamburger. Another E-2 had to be wheeled out to take the place of the one that was scheduled to depart, and flight operations were suspended for an hour as the crew cleaned up the mess, and policed the deck to make sure no part of him could damage another aircraft.