The Airman’s Guide to the Venturi Effect

Posted: October 27, 2014 in Tim Braun
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One of the many tidbits of information I had to learn when studying for my Private Pilot’s license, in addition to going to the bathroom BEFORE the flight started and not spitting into the propeller, was the Venturi Effect. We pilot guys tend to make things a lot more complicated than they need to be, so while this was treated as the golden idol of knowledge behind the jet engine, it was really not very complicated at all. Basically, if you shoot ‘things’ through a tube that gets smaller and smaller, the ‘things’ will move faster and faster. Boom. Done. Go fly a plane. Anyway, this can be illustrated like this:


But did you know that not only is this used in airplane engines, it’s used in passengers boarding an airplane as well. That’s right…you heard it here first, the boarding of the airplane is the perfect example of the Venturi Effect. Simply take roughly 150 semi-annoying people with SOME positive characteristics and throw them through an airplane door into a tiny metal cylinder and you have successfully stripped all 150 of these positive characteristics right from their personalities. This can be graphically illustrated as such:

Venturi_Effect_PassengerRecently I had the great pleasure of experiencing this scientific effect first-hand. I was surprised, however, that the Effect in question actually started once people hit the very first door into the airport. In fact, it started from the parking garage with the moving sidewalk. Can you please explain two separate behaviors on or about the moving sidewalk for me?

  • People walking next to the moving sidewalk at a normal pace. Not ON the moving sidewalk, just beside it? Are they just too ‘cool’ to be seen on this? Scared of the breakneck pace of the sidewalk? I have no idea.
  • People who STAND on the moving sidewalk and let no one pass. This ain’t Disneyland and this AIN’T a ride, kind sir. Stand to the right or walk on the moving sidewalk like a normal person.

The next time the Venturi Effect was noted was in actually boarding the aircraft. 150 people. One screaming baby. There was a guy who I swear was so terrified/angered by this crying kid that every single time a little wail was heard, he proceeded to whip his head around like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. He scared me so bad that even I stopped crying. Suffice it to say that he had a band-aid smack dab in the middle of his bald head. I don’t know why, but if you ever see a band-aid on a bald head, run the other way FAST.

So all of us semi-annoying people are now Venturi’d into this tiny metal tube. My travelling partner had the great fortune to have this actual exchange. I was a witness to this so I am not making this up. It all started innocently enough when Travelling Partner (TP) put his laptop in the overhead storage bin. The following conversation then occurred, all rights reserved:

Annoying Woman (AW):              “I didn’t want my laptop squeezed.”

(TP):      “Huh?”

(AW):    “You’re crowding my laptop – I didn’t want it crushed.”

(TP):      “It’s not crushed, it’s just standing there…”

(AW):    “It’s a very sensitive laptop…brand new….it can’t be crushed and it can’t lay flat.”

(TP):     “I have a laptop too.”

(AW):    “But mine is special. It can’t lay flat.”

At this point TP moved his laptop to another overhead bin just to get away from this lady who hailed from the land of sensitive laptops. Funny thing is, when the stewardess tried to put something in the overhead bin, AW took her to task as well. Obviously, the stewardess won the battle and the lady had to ride the rest of the way with the laptop under the seat in front of her. Personally? I’d have assumed that she was holding some sort of incendiary device and destroyed it IMMEDIATELY. Where’s vigilante justice when you need it?

A few more interesting observations on our merry way to Chicago – first, the man who paced up and down the aisle the entire time. I mean – the ENTIRE TIME. Up. Down. Up. Down. And not a band-aid to be seen on his head.

seatbackNext, the bull in the china shop passenger. He sits down in front of me, and Cannot. Sit. Still. Back and forth, all the time bouncing the TV screen in front of me on the back of his seat around so much that I thought the show I was watching was 3D with the vibration. He had apparently invented the horizontal pogo stick atoasternd inserted it firmly up his butt.  Settle down, sparky.

Finally, the Pop-Up. Plane lands, taxis to the gate, and as soon as the seat belt sign goes off – BOOM! Up pops this guy, grabs his jacket, baseball cap and slams them on his person, grabs the luggage from the overhead and stands there waiting like the Queen of England. Just sit down and relax, fella. You have 78 people in front of you.

I love airline travel. Next time, see if you notice the Venturi Effect as you walk through each successive stage of the Great Airline Boarding. My bet is that you will see ‘the annoying’ ratcheted up as you walk through each successive door.

Oh – the one good thing? I got to watch THIS on my way to Chicago:


That’s right – the best 110 minutes of TV possible.

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    You’ve captured the experience perfectly. At least now I have a name for it. I’ll be living the Venturi Effect three times in the next month. Well, 12 times if you count all the flights. Just typing that makes me want to leap off a tall building. I’m not a fan of flying.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for naming this process. I have witnessed it more times than I would like to count. I would comment more, but I am typing my response on my “special” laptop. You have to be really, really careful with the keys and how many times you push them.

    Liked by 1 person

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