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Like Helicopter Blender but with running jet engines. The key difference is that a living being sucked into a jet engine 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. 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. The spinning item at the very front of the engine is a very-not-forgiving ducted fan made of titanium blades, which will rapidly render an animal as large as a person into something akin to chipped beef.
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, shred 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.
Subtrope of Deadly Rotary Fan.
Anime & Manga Edit
- 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.
- 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.
Comic Books Edit
- 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.
Film -- Animated Edit
- In The Incredibles, during the "no capes" montage in which a female hero flying by a jetliner and waving at a kid is 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.
- In 9 it's how The Winged Beast gets dispatched.
Film -- Live Action Edit
- 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: a Pit Droid is sucked into what looks a lot like a jet engine, 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 off a part of his pod (that he doesn't really need) and throws it behind him. It hits the engine of one of his pursuers and is promptly sucked in, tearing the craft apart.
- A Nazi Giant Mook gets carved up by the propellers in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- Happens to The Dragon 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Live Action TV Edit
- Happens to one of the passengers in the beginning of Lost.
- Myth Busters showed that an airplane propellor 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.
- 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.
Newspaper Comics Edit
- 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."
Video Games Edit
- 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.
- 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.
- One antagonist in Terranigma is defeated this way.
Web Comics Edit
- Bug wanted to have kill marks for birds sucked into his engine, but this idea was shot down.
- The Savage Chicken in Freefall has occasionally attempted to kill Sam Starfall by asking him to stand in front of the turbines for an engine test.
Web Original Edit
- 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.
- Happens at least one in Happy Tree Friends.
Western Animation Edit
- 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, 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.
Real Life Edit
- 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 destroyed.
- 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 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.
- 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 a frozen carcass of a big bird into the running engine to see if it can withstand the force.