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Man Fined $17,200 for Tossing Coins Into Airplane Engine for 'Good Luck'

Flying in a plane is much like living on a planet suspended in space. Sometimes you're just munching on almonds and wondering what movie to watch, while other times an awareness of the position you're existing in brings so much anxiety that, in order to cope, you need to believe in something bigger than yourself.

28-year-old Lu Chao, who flew for the first time back in February, knew that taking some superstitious measures before a flight would give him something to believe in while midair, so he threw coins into the engine before boarding the plane, according to Travel & Leisure. But what happened next was not perfectly good fortune, nor was it a little bit of turbulence and an overcooked chicken dinner: Chao's flight was canceled, and he was later charged the equivalent of $17,200. 

Chao was flying with Lucky Air that day, departing at Tianzhushan Airport in eastern China. Before the flight took off, the ground crew found coins near the engine and called for a total evacuation of the aircraft. They began a search for remaining coins and were forced to cancel the flight, leaving many passengers stranded overnight. Chao was promptly detained.

Zhang Qihuai, a legal expert in China's aviation industry, told Beijing Youth Daily. that any piece of metal in the engines could cause serious damage to the turbine blades. 

"The shattered pieces could start a fire in the engine," he explained, "and lead to oil pipe rupture and [the] engines to stop, endangering aviation safety." 

But Chao argued in court, during his 10-day detainment, that he didn't make up the coin-throwing ritual and that airlines should warn passengers not to do it. The government actually had to put a law in place to make the practice illegal, and it's not the first time Thrillist has written about a case like this

Nevertheless, superstitious Chao was forced to pay the fine. At least we can say with absolute certainty that the plane he was boarding did not crash land, specifically because he threw coins in the engine. 

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer for Thrillist.