Falling down a ship's air intake
June 20, 2012 12:33 PM   Subscribe

What would happen if you jumped or fell down a big ship's air intake?

I'm thinking about a classic shaped one, but on deck and bigger, like on a ferry, cruise ship, oil tanker or cargo ship.

How far down do they go and what is at the bottom? Would you survive the fall and would you be able to summon help?

I can't find any reports of this happening but have seen it in films and comics.
posted by guy72277 to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Sadly, I don't think anything much would happen. There are most likely louvers between the intake and the rest of the system, not spinny blades of death. You might get stuck. You would probably be heard screaming for help and someone would have to get you out and then make you pay for damages.

Or, you know, wormhole. You'd be pretty screwed then.
posted by amanda at 12:46 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: A Dorade Box it is then. Nifty solution for letting air but not water in.

Thanks for clearing that one up, Burhanistan.
posted by guy72277 at 12:48 PM on June 20, 2012

Response by poster: I thought it might be like the air intake or "power bulge" on a car. No supercharger fan blades sucking you in then. Good to know.
posted by guy72277 at 12:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I believe Indiana Jones hid in one of these in Raiders of the Lost Ark (when the German sub stopped the ship he and Marion were on) with no ill effect—like he was just standing in a tube. The graphic at the link above seems to show why.
posted by blueberry at 1:36 PM on June 20, 2012

Pretty sure they appear with sailors in them in one or two classic musicals of the Busby Berkeley type, or a Bob Hope picture, or something (getting nothing with the Googles, but then, why would you?). At the time, the gag was probably pretty well known.
posted by dhartung at 3:09 PM on June 20, 2012

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