Jazz Players Describe Moment Birds Hit Plane, Forcing Emergency Landing

Apr 1, 2021, 6:11 AM | Updated: 2:26 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz players are speaking for the first time about their experience inside a chartered plane that had to make an emergency landing after hitting a flock of birds.

The Jazz took down the Grizzlies in Memphis 111-107 Wednesday, grabbing a win even after the ordeal that delayed their trip to Memphis on Tuesday.

After the game, team members said their experience aboard the chartered flight was nothing short of terrifying.

“Guys were trying to text family, just in case,” said guard Mike Conley. “It was that kind of situation.”

Shortly after taking off, the team’s plane ran into a flock of birds, which severely damaged one of the engines. Video and photos showed the engine ripped apart in areas, and the aircraft’s nose was spattered with blood.

The ordeal even led to guard Donovan Mitchell choosing not to take the next flight, sitting out the Memphis game altogether.

Coach Quin Snyder said he never comments on personal matters with any of his players, but he did acknowledge it was a traumatic experience for the whole team.

“Everybody’s impacted in different ways – all very significant,” he said. “It wasn’t something that we were going to solve by just talking through everything. But I think it was important to acknowledge what we all went through.”

Birdstrikes at airports are fairly common. In 2020, there were 163 incidents at the Salt Lake International Airport, and the majority of them were very minor. However, the strike on the Jazz’s plane showed just how dangerous birds can be to planes.

The airport has an entire team dedicated to wildlife mitigation. The manager said the incident with the Jazz’s plane was the worst she’s seen in her 11 years at the airport.

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Jazz Players Describe Moment Birds Hit Plane, Forcing Emergency Landing