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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The "Captain" (blue) is paid when 8 "passengers" have arrived at the bottom of the pyramid. (Below the Captain are two "Co-Pilots", below them four "Crew".)

The airplane game, also known as the plane game, is a style of pyramid scheme first recorded in the 1980s in North America and later Western Europe.

The common version of the system involved joining an "airplane" by paying a "pilot" to become one of eight "passengers".[1][2] Passengers who started at the fourth step paid to join. Already on the airplane were four "flight attendants" who were a step ahead, and two "co-pilots" next in line behind the pilot. Once a pilot collected $12,000 from passengers to retire, the group split into two "airplanes", with each co-pilot becoming the pilot of the new airplane, taking half the participants and promoting everyone a level. Bringing in new passengers sped up everyone's progression towards retiring as a pilot.[1] However, the structure of the scheme results in a participant losing the entire payment unless 14 new participants join.[2]

The scheme had spread from New York to Texas to California then South Florida by early 1987,[2] with police raiding meetings in all four states,[3][1][2][4] and reports of more airplane schemes operating in Dallas.[4] In Miami-Dade County, Florida, at least one recruiting session was reported with 1,000 attendees.[2] Though common versions at the time required passengers to pay $1,500 to receive $12,000 as a pilot,[1][2][4] some airplanes were being run with $5,000 passengers and a $40,000 pilot payout.[2]

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/1
  • Airplane Game - Lean Simulation


Other names

The scheme has also gone by the names Concorde and Golden Galaxy with similar names for the steps. Cash Club, Victoria operated in the same way but with different amounts and the steps renamed to "club member", "committee member", "vice-president", and "president". "Krona Klub" was a similar scheme with more complex payout rules, as was a so-called game variously called "Cosmic Adventure", "Flying Saucer", or "Flying Starship".[5]

The payout structure of the 2021 "Blessing Loom" program (left) is functionally identical to the 1980s airplane scheme

The scheme resurfaced in 2020, conducted over Instagram and other social media platforms, going by a variety of names including Blessing Loom,[6] Loom Game,[7] Wheel,[8][non-primary source needed] Gift of Legacy, and The Prosperity Grid in South Africa.

In 2022, after receiving several complaints from the public, South Africa's Financial Sector Conduct Authority released an official warning to the public regarding The Prosperity Grid, saying that although it resembled a traditional stokvel savings scheme, they considered its structure to be a pyramid scheme.[9] Because pyramid schemes fall outside of the jurisdiction of the FSCA, the matter has been referred to other relevant regulators and authorities.


  1. ^ a b c d Neuffer, Elizabeth (April 7, 1987). "'Airplane': High-Stakes Chain Letter". The New York Times (National ed.). p. B7. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Enscoe, David (March 26, 1987). "Pyramid Scheme Takes Off Thousands Invest In 'Plane Game'". Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on July 19, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2018. Published in print edition as "'Plane Game' taking many for a big ride".
  3. ^ "Pyramid Scheme Grounded". Houston Chronicle. October 31, 1986.
  4. ^ a b c "Police Clip Wings of 'Airplane Game' : Arrest Four Alleged Promoters of Version of Pyramid Scheme". Los Angeles Times (online ed.). March 19, 1987. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  5. ^ Branscum, Bill E. (2002). "Pyramid Scheme: Real Scams for Your Study and Review". Naples, Florida. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  6. ^ "Prosper DJ and wife accused of scamming Black people nationwide out of 'tens of millions' in 'blessing loom' pyramid scheme". Dallas News. June 17, 2021. Retrieved July 4, 2021.
  7. ^ Toromade, Samson (May 8, 2019). "Nigerians welcome Loom, another Ponzi scheme, with open arms". Pulse. Archived from the original on August 27, 2021. Retrieved August 26, 2021.
  8. ^ " /r/antiMLM "Just because you call it a wheel doesn't mean it's not a pyramid scheme."". /r/antiMLM. April 18, 2020. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  9. ^ "FSCA issues public warning against The Prosperity Grid" (PDF). FSCA. Retrieved July 1, 2023.

External links

This page was last edited on 25 November 2023, at 20:58
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