"Aviation" is the tenth episode of the A Series of QI. It was first broadcast on 6 November 2003 on BBC Four and was broadcast a week later on BBC Two. "Aviation" was the first episode in which Alan Davies won. This episode was preceded by "Antelopes" and followed by "Arts".


Numbers in brackets mark appearances - e.g. "(2)" means "(second appearance)".

  1. Alan Davies (10): 23 points
  2. Julia Morris (1): 9 points
  3. Rich Hall (3): 3 points
  4. Peter Serafinowicz (1): -5 points


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  • The aeroplane was invented by John Stringfellow[1] of Chard, Somerset in 1848. It was a model aeroplane, but it had an engine in it. The Wright Brothers' flight covered less than half the wingspan of a Boeing Jumbo Jet.
  • A person would have, "Mad, bad, fat, sad old git", on their luggage, because they are airport luggage codes.
    • MAD is Madrid Barajas International Airport.
    • BAD is Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier City, Louisiana.
    • FAT is Fresno Yosemite International Airport, California.
    • SAD is Safford Regional Airport, Arizona.
    • OLD is Old Town Municipal Airport and Seaplane Base, Old Town, Maine.
    • GIT is Geita Airport, Geita, Tanzania.
  • The code for Butler Memorial Airport is BUM, Sioux Gateway Airport is SUX, and Fukuoka Airport is FUK.
  • Madonna plans to buy the prettiest airport in the world, Compton Abbas Airfield in Dorset and shut it down, because it's ruining her weekend place at Cranborne Chase, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • The largest aircraft carrier in the world was the USS Abraham Lincoln, with a deck area of four and a half acres, making it the largest vehicle of any kind. The smallest aircraft carrier in the world, however, was a Mitsubishi Shogun (Everywhere else in the world it's known as the Pajero, except in Spain, where 'pajero' means 'one who fiddles with himself for sexual pleasure').
  • It was a bad idea to ban smoking on aeroplanes, due to companies saving money by using both fresh and recycled air. When smoking was allowed, the air inside the cabin was replaced with fresh air every three minutes, but nowadays airline companies only allow for half the amount of air needed for comfort, increasing the levels of carbon dioxide in the cabin, causing dizziness, nausea and increasing threats from viruses. The amount of air rage incidents after the ban was enforced has increased dramatically.
  • Fry attributes the quotation "Anything that's white is sweet. Anything that's brown is meat. Anything that's grey, don't eat" to actress Hermione Gingold. (Note: The actual author is Stephen Sondheim, and the quotation is from his lyric for "What Do We Do? We Fly", from the musical "Do I Hear a Waltz?")
  • Alan was the eighth most popular male name in England in 1944, but by the advent of the 1990s had dropped out of the top hundred. It is often Celtic origin, and, like Peter, means "rock" (although Fry and Davies argue whether it means rock or pebble). Calculus and pessary also mean "rock" or "pebble".
  • Most of the world's Alans live in on the Russian border, in the northern Caucasus, since the Huns drove them there in the 4th century. The Alans were known for the cavalry prowess, introduced chivalry to Europe, and may have inspired the Arthurian legend. Pliny the Elder, however, described the Alans as a race of "bastard degenerates".
  • Edgar Allan Poe married his thirteen-year-old cousin, indulged in heavy binge drinking, and died in a gutter in Baltimore in 1849. However, he predicted the Big Bang, the theory of relativity, parallel universes and the structure of the atom in a prose poem called Eureka. Interestingly, the poem doesn't even rhyme.
  • Alan Smithee is the Alan with the worst reputation in Hollywood. It is the name used when directors dissociate themselves from a film. His oeuvre includes Hobgoblins 2, Boggy Creek 3, Hellraiser 4 and Dune, where he co-directed with David Lynch. Tony Kaye is alleged to have tried to use Smithee's name for American History X.
  • In Boy on a Dolphin, Sophia Loren had to stand and walk in a trench due to the shortness of Alan Ladd. Ladd said that working with Loren was like being "bombarded with watermelons".
  • Alan Whicker's is Cockney rhyming slang for knickers.

General IgnoranceEdit

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  • The first man to circumnavigate the globe was Juan Sebastián Elcano.[2] Magellan was killed in the Philippines halfway round. His ship, the Victoria, was the first ship to complete the voyage.
  • The helicopter was invented by the Chinese[3] in the 4th century, more than 1,000 years before Leonardo da Vinci. It was called the "bamboo dragonfly" and could fly 25 feet (7.6 m) up and down. The first modern helicopter was invented by the French.
  • Nothing happens if you suck your pencil, as it is made out of graphite, which is the crystallised form of carbon.[4]


  1. the Wright Brothers
  2. Magellan
  3. Italian
  4. Lead poisoning