Several Utah Jazz players feared the worst when the team’s plane was forced to make an emergency landing on Tuesday due to engine failure after it collided with a flock of birds.
Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson recalled the frightening experience with the media following Wednesday’s 111-107 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
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“It got to that point where we were all on the plane like, ‘This might be really the end,'” Clarkson said. “I mean, it was a crazy situation. I understand fully why Don didn’t come.”
He was referring to Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, who declined to travel with the team after the incident due to “personal reasons.”
“For a good 10 or 15 minutes, I think all of us on that flight were questioning if we were going to be here today,” point guard Mike Conley added. “That’s how serious it was for us. I can’t speak for everybody, but I know that guys were trying to text family just in case, you know? It was that kind of situation.”
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He continued: “It felt like the plane was breaking apart in midair. For five or 10 minutes, it felt like complete helplessness. We’re thankful it wasn’t as serious as it could have been, but it was scary.”
The plane was in the air for only a few minutes before it had to make its way back down to the runway, according to the flight records. The team left Salt Lake City around 1:15 p.m. local time and returned to the airport at 1:31 p.m. after reaching an altitude of only 8,550 feet.
“As the aircraft was taking off it hit a flock of birds,” Delta said in a statement. “The left engine was shut down, the pilot declared an emergency in return to Salt Lake International Airport. Aircraft landed without incident and was able to taxi back.”
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The Jazz will return home Friday for a game against the Chicago Bulls and then will host the Orlando Magic on Saturday before having to travel again to take on the Dallas Mavericks.
Fox News’ Daniel Canova contributed to this report.