A series of one-dimensional studies is presented to reveal basic aspects of momentum and energy transfer to plates in air blasts. Intense air waves are initiated as either an isolated propagating wave or by the sudden release of a highly compressed air layer. Wave momentum is determined in terms of the energy characterizing the compressed layer. The interaction of intense waves with freestanding plates is computed with emphasis on the momentum and/or energy transferred to the plate. A simple conjecture, backed by numerical simulations, is put forward related to the momentum transmitted to massive plates. The role of the standoff distance between the compressed air layer and the plate is elucidated. Throughout, dimensionless parameters are selected to highlight the most important groups of parameters and to reduce parametric dependencies to the extent possible.