Do you want to know the Jet Engine Turbine illusion secret how stage magicians managed to slip through the spinning fan blades, and come out alive in a different place?
This post I am going to put in place how this stage illusion is done.
This massive stage illusion prop is built by magic designer John Gaughan; the man behind all those large-scale illusions for famous illusionists that include Siegfried & Roy, Criss Angel, David Copperfield, Doug Henning and Mark Wilson.
Some called this apparatus “The Jet Turbine Engine“, “Through a Jet Engine Turbine Fan” or “Turbo Jet Illusion“.
By the way, this is not Steve Wyrick Through Jet Turbine illusion which I have revealed and explained my view how he does it.
Magicians who have performed this Jet Engine Turbine illusion include: Tim Kole, Brett Daniels, Erix Logan, Jan Rouven, Kevin and Kristen, Vincent Vignaud and also the young German Andre Blake.
The secret of this Turbo Jet illusion is merely my opinion or theory how this trick is done, by viewing the various video clips available online.
I hope my view of this secret is not full of holes.
The performer lies flat on his stomach on a special-designed raised platform and he is wheeled toward a large turbine with spinning fan blades.
With both feet facing the propeller, the performer slides backward until half of his body seemingly penetrates through the revolving fan blades.
Now the platform is pulled away, and you can see the performer’s body thrusts deep into the spinning propeller.
Then using either smoke or a piece of black cloth to conceal the performer, he disappears into into the propeller.
Then the performer reappears among the audience.
Watch the performance of Jet Engine Turbine illusion by the husband-and-wife team Kevin Ridgeway and Kristen Johnson:
I would reveal how the performer able to penetrate the rotating propeller, but not much on the detailed mechanism of the prop.
There are two key reasons why this illusion needs such an enormous prop:
1. The method used by the performer to do the penetration trick.
2. To mislead audience the way the propeller works.
I will explain them soon.
You will also find out in this Jet Engine Turbine illusion secret why all the performers/magicians wear black or dark color clothing?
It will be revealed and explained in due time.
Jet Engine Turbine Illusion Secret
This Jet Engine Turbine illusion does not use the mirror like the Windshear fan illusion by Jim Steinmeyer, as I have shared my view how it is done before.
It is also not by shifting the swirling fan inward, like what I think how Steve Wyrick performs his “Through Jet Turbine” illusion, or what Val Valentino aka the notorious Masked Magician exposed in this video.
By the way, you can also find this similar illusion plan called “Turbo” (Design 95) in Andrew Mayne’s booklet “Solo-X“.
This big fan illusion is usually performed in the semi-dark stage and hammed it up with distracting and dazzling lighting.
It is a simple stage illusion featuring the penetrating effect.
But it is cluttered with music, scream, alarm sound effect, frantic movements and compounded with blinding flashlights, strobe lights, moving images projection, smoke and even pyrotechnics.
There is a sound reason for the commotion and distractions, or what the magicians call it misdirection.
It is an art of influencing the spectator’s state of mind or thought process.
That’s is why many of us did not see the secret move of this stage magic trick.
Related: Read about misdirection used in magic tricks from these free books below.
If we watch this Jet Engine Turbine illusion from the television screen or from the video clips, we are further visually confused by both the optical illusions called the wagon-wheel effect and stroboscopic effects.
The blur erratic rotations of the spinning propeller.
Penetrating Jet Engine Turbine Illusion Secret
Now, let’s get into the action…
First and foremost, the big propeller is certainly spinning with the performer in the midst.
But I think the propeller is NOT attached and run by the long drive shaft behind it, like a normal turbine engine.
I would explained it below.
Do you know why they have to hide the spot where the performer’s feet shove into the moving fan blades?
Obviously it is because that is the crucial area where the secret is.
All the performers’ soles of their feet facing the moving propeller are always veiled by a piece of black cloth or a specially-designed foot pedal rest.
Most of them use the small piece of black fabric (spandex).
This is how “The World’s Premier Female Escape Artist” Kristen Johnson does it with the black fabric.
Brett Daniels also does with the black fabric affixed to the foot pedal rest.
When it’s time for the performers to go into the moving fan blades to finish their act, they are hidden by the gushing white smoke, or a piece of black cloth.
Now, let’s get behind the black cloth and the smoke and find out how the trick works.
Focus your attention on the propeller blades…
Look carefully at the POSITION of the propeller blades when it is stationary or just started moving.
The propeller blades centrally converged right behind the nose cone or spinner.
Now look closely again at the POSITION of the moving propeller blades when the performer is doing the penetration act.
The blades are NOT centralized behind the NOSE CONE any more.
Now the converging point of the propeller is below the nose cone.
Let’s check out magician Kristen Johnson‘s act:
In the beginning, the propeller blades meet right behind the nose cone.
Now observe the position of the propeller blades when Johnson is so-called penetrating the spinning fan blades.
You can see the meeting point of the blades is NOT behind the nose cone.
It is actually below the nose cone now.
In other words, the propeller has moved a little downward.
Look at the picture below, when she has just disappeared into the propeller, the fan blades are back into its original centralized position.
When you look closely at Kristen Johnson, you would notice the area around her body is actually the converging point of the propeller blades.
In short, the propeller is spinning around her body.
Look at this scene captured from Tim Kole’s act.
Again, you can clearly see the revolving fan blades are actually going around his body.
So is this snapshot captured from Erix Logan’s performance in China.
Just after Erix Logan has slipped in, the propeller blades are moved back right behind the nose cone, as can be seen below:
Similarly, this is what happens to Brett Daniels.
You can clearly see the set of fan blades are converging below the nose cone, and around Brett Daniels’ body.
Now we know, there is a HOLE where they slip into it, while the fan blades are busy spinning around their bodies.
So, now we know the propeller itself is movable.
The set of fan blades is revolving around a round black metal frame with a HOLE where the performer penetrates.
This is a simple illustration (with 8 blades) how the propeller looks like from the front:
As for this technical details, I think by itself, the set of fan blades is affixed to another round metal rod or strip.
It is probably slotted into a narrow groove that runs around the black round metal frame, as illustrated below:
This is close up view of the round metal frame and the hole taken from Erix Logan’s video.
Here is another visual where you can see the round metal frame around Tim Kole’s body.
This is how it looks like in this simplified illustration :
Jet Turbine Illusion Jan Rouven
If you watch the video of Jan Rowen‘s performance, you can clearly see the gap above his right shoulder (light yellow color), when he acts as if he is floating or flying in the mid-air.
You can see there is NO fan blades around at 2:32-2:37, 2:40-2:43, 2:47-2:48 from this video (as shown below).
Right behind the hole is a black spandex with a slit opening, where the magicians can slip right in.
This round black spandex frame is separately attached onto the prop.
For clearer explanation, refer to the illustration below:
This is a close up view of the spandex from Erix Logan’s apparatus.
This one is from Brett Daniels’ video:
This is the reason why all the performers wear black or dark colored color clothing.
It is to camouflage with the black color round metal frame around their body and the black spandex behind.
In the conjuring magic tricks, it is called Black Art.
It simply means the use of black color curtains, mat or clothing, etc to blend with the props to keep the secret being seen by the audience.
Related: To learn more about the black art principle used in magic tricks, check out these free books below.
Now you know the secret hole has to be big enough for the performer to go through.
In addition, the hole must be hidden behind the nose cone before and after the penetration act.
That’s is why it needs such a big apparatus (as I have hinted above), particularly the nose cone.
The nose cone is there to conceals the secret hole, which the magicians push in their bodies, to appear as if they are penetrating the whirring blades.
From what I can see, the nose cone is stationary as it is NOT attached to the propeller.
It is mounted onto the apparatus by three supporting bars, as shown in the picture below.
As we know now, the whole propeller has to move or shift downward, then only the trick is possible.
So, the propeller cannot be firmly fixed to the nose cone and the huge drive shaft-like component, as seen from the prop.
Probably the propeller is run the motor as indicated in the visual above.
Here are the props of Bret Daniels and Kevin Ridgeway respectively:
As I cannot view clearly from all the video clips available, I do not know precisely the actual working of the propeller.
But even the monstrous piece is a sham, together with all the other features behind, they are vital parts of this illusion prop design.
This is to give the impression the big fan is spun by the shaft behind, like an actual jet turbine engine.
This will make the penetration trick appears highly impossible.
That’s why they purposely spin the whole prop around to show to the audience.
This is how I think time Kole, Brett Daniels or Kristen Johnson has managed to so-called penetrate the revolving Jet Turbine fan blades.
So how do they slip in and slip away from the apparatus.
Look at the prop behind and you can see the ramp or slide-like structure right below the black spandex frame.
This is the prop from Erix Logan:
You can see the similar slide or ramp of Brett Daniels:
The ramp of Kevin and Kristen’s apparatus is different from them:
All they do is they slip down the ramp and quickly run to the back of the stage to where ever they have planned to reappear.
As I have mentioned from the beginning, this Jet Engine Turbine illusion is performed in gloomy stage, this makes it easier for them to steal away.
Furthermore the audience is distracted with the blinding flashlights, smoke and pyrotechnics.
This is the Jet Engine Turbine illusion secret which I think how it is done.
Gary Darwin – Grandes Illusions Impromptues (English title is Darwin’s Inexpensive Illusions)
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