A elderly woman who decided to chuck a load of coins into a plane’s engine for good luck ended up delaying a flight in Shanghai, a Chinese airline has confirmed.
The 80-year-old passenger threw her change at the China Southern Airlines flight as she crossed the tarmac to board on Tuesday.
She threw the coins as she ‘prayed for safety’ and so they would have a smooth journey, she told police.
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Only one of the nine coins she threw managed to lodge itself into its intended target – but this was enough to mean that the 150 passengers on board had to wait around for several hours.
Police were called to Shanghai Pudong International Airport after a passenger noticed the woman’s weird behaviour.
The woman was travelling with her husband, daughter and son-in-law, according to local media.
“In order to make sure the flight is safe, China Southern maintenance has conducted a full examination of the plane’s engine,” China Southern Airlines said in a statement on the microblogging site Weibo.
They also tweeted a picture of the coins.
“After an investigation the involved passenger, surnamed Qiu, said she threw the coins to pray for safety. According to Qiu’s neighbour, Qiu believes in Buddhism,” the police said.
The flight took off five hours later.
Chinese people took to the social media site Weibo for a bit of banter about the ordeal, with one user commenting: “Grandma, this is not a wish fountain with turtles.”
If the coins had fucked up the engine mid-flight you’ll be relieved to hear that it wouldn’t have meant the plane dropping out of the sky.
Apparently if all of a plane’s engines were to cut out, it would still be capable of gliding for a considerable distance: hopefully be far enough to reach a landing strip, or at least some flat ground and not just enough to buy you a few extra minutes of panic.
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Patrick Smith, author of Cockpit Confidential, has previously written that: “There’s no greater prospect of instant calamity than switching off the engine in your car when coasting downhill. The car keeps going, and a plane will, too.”
Apparently planes do this all the time, not just when they have no other option. In fact, gliding happens on pretty much every flight.
Patrick also writes: “It’s not the least bit uncommon for jets to descend at what a pilot calls ‘flight idle’, with the engines running back to a zero-thrust condition. They’re still operating and powering crucial systems, but providing no push. You’ve been gliding many times without knowing it. It happens on just about every flight.
“Obviously an idle-thrust glide is different from the engines quitting outright, but even then, the glide itself would be no different.”
That said, given how expensive those things are to build, it’s probably still a good thing they decided to get rid of the coins before taking off.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images