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The Airplane Game - Get Rich Quick

By Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum

Here’s a great game that someone invented that can make people rich real quick. It works like this. Imagine a plane which can seat eight passengers, four crew members, two co-pilots plus one main pilot. Everyone of the eight passengers getting on the plane must pay the main pilot $1,500. When the pilot fills the plane with eight passengers and receives his $12,000 he leaves the plane. The plane now splits into two planes with each of the previous co-pilots now becoming the main pilots of the two new planes. The previous four crew members now also split and become the two co-pilots on the two new planes. The previous eight passengers are now divided into two crews of four each and board the two new planes. The job of these two crews of four is to find eight new passengers that will each pay the pilot $1,500 to get onto their plane. As soon as sixteen new passengers are found, the pilots take their money and leave and the planes are split again. This would mean that a passenger would invest $1,500 and receive all of $12,000 when he would ultimately become the pilot of the plane. Pilots could continue making more money by becoming passengers on the new planes. This could continue on with millions of people all becoming very rich.

Sounds like a great game? Many people played this game in the early 1970’s until the government declared it illegal. Can you figure out why the government would stop such a great get rich quick scheme?









Each plane needs 15 people.

Many variations of the above pyramid scam are constantly popping up with a few people making some money and the vast majority of people losing their entire investment. Some of these scams are even advertised in some of our Yiddish papers and many Jews have lost their money in schemes called "Winners Circle," "JewelWay" and others. A recent article in the Nov. 2003 Readers Digest contained a clever variation of this scam game called "Gifting Circles." Thousands of people fell for it and lost their initial $5,000 investment so better watch out. Beside being illegal, most people will also lose their money. Why? See if you’re clever enough to figure it out.

Answer Below

The reason why all types of pyramid schemes fail and have been declared illegal is because for every person that’s going to make money there will be thousands of others that will ultimately lose their entire investment when it quickly reaches its saturation point. The saturation point refers to the point that everyone in the world already bought in and there is no one left to sell it to.

This means that you can’t have everyone in B’klyn open up a pizza store . Once there are too many stores of a particular kind, the rest of them will have to close up!

Here is what the math would look like if everyone bought into the airplane game.

Additional people recruited. Total # of players. Total # of pilots. Total $ involved.

Split #2 16 31 3 $36,000

Split #3 32 63 7 $84,000

Split #4 64 127 15 $18,000

Split #5 128 255 31 $372,000

Split #6 256 511 63 $756,000

Split #7 512 1,023 127 $1,524,000

Split #8 1,024 2,047 255 $3,060,000

Split # 9 2,048 4,095 511 $6,132,000

Split #10 4,096 8,191 1,023 $12,276,000

Split #11 8,092 16,383 2,047 $24,564,000

Split #12 16,384 32,767 4,095 $49,140,000

Split #13 32,768 65,535 8,091 $97,092,000

Split #14 65,536 131,071 16,383 $196,596,000

Split #15

Split #16 Fill in the math on your own!

Split #17 "

Split #18 "

Split #19 "

Split #20 4,194,304 8,388,607 1,048,575 $12,582,900,000

After only twenty splits we already have a total of over four million participants. In another few splits there will be no one in the world to sell it too and all the millions of people who bought in will all lose their money.


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