Delta: Flight Carrying Oklahoma Thunder Encountered Bird

Chris Jasurek
By Chris Jasurek
October 28, 2017Sports News
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Delta: Flight Carrying Oklahoma Thunder Encountered Bird

The NBA’s Oklahoma Thunder took a lot of shots in their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on the night of Friday, Oct. 27.

None of those were anything compared to the shot their plane took while flying home early Saturday morning.

When the team disembarked their Delta Airlines Boeing 757 shortly at Chicago’s Midway Airport after 1:00 a.m. Central Time, they found the nose cone of the plane they were riding was completely caved in.

Delta Airlines says a charter flight carrying the Oklahoma City Thunder from Minneapolis to Chicago apparently encountered a bird early Saturday when it was landing, causing damage that prompted some players to post photos on social media showing the caved-in nose of the plane.

Delta’s Corporate Communications officer explained what probably happened:

“Delta flight 8935, operating from Minneapolis to Chicago-Midway as a charter flight for the Oklahoma City Thunder, likely encountered a bird while on descent into Chicago.

“The aircraft, a Boeing 757-200, landed safely without incident; customers have since deplaned and maintenance is evaluating. Safety is Delta’s top priority.”

Delta Airlines spokeswoman Elizabeth Wolf said maintenance was evaluating the situation and that the damage was likely caused by a collision with a bird. She said the Boeing 757-200 landed safely without incident at Chicago’s Midway International Airport.

Carmelo Anthony, Josh Huestis, and Steven Adams all posted photos of the plane shortly after it landed around 12:45 a.m.

Okalahoma’s star small forward Carmelo Anthony captioned his picture of the dented plane, “What could we have possibly hit in the SKY at this time of night? Everyone is safe, though.”

Adams’ Twitter post said, “We had a rough flight to say the least.”

No one on the plane was injured. In fact, one team official told a reporter that the flight was “a little rough, but nothing extreme or out of the ordinary.”

It is unlikely the bird fared well.

Huestis wrote on Twitter, “I guess we hit something? 30,000 feet up…”

A spokesperson for the team told The Oklahoman newspaper that all of its players, staff, and coaches were safe. The Thunder lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 119-116 on Friday night, Oct. 27. Oklahoma City plays the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.

As it turns out, collisions with birds are not extraordinary. In fact, they happen often enough that airplane designers make the nosecones of their jets out of a malleable composite to help absorb the shocks of avian impact.

This bit of information was divulged in May of 2015 after a similar bird impact happened to Turkish Airlines flight TK2004 from Istanbul to Nevsehir. That plane, a Boeing 737-800, sustained an even scarier amount of damage.

In response, Dr. Ali Genc, Turkish Airlines senior vice president of media relations, explained that the nose cone “of a plane is being constructed by soft materials (composite) to minimalize the impact of such hits. Therefore, such standard/normal deformation occurs as a natural result of such incidents.”

Basically, Boeing knows its planes are going to bash into birds, so the planes have bird-bumpers.

Of course, bird/jet encounters don’t always work out well for the plane.

Many people can recall how US Airways Flight 1549, an Airbus A320-214, struck a flock of geese while leaving New York City’s LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 15, 2009.

A New York City Fire Department boat floats next to a US Airways plane which crashed into the Hudson River in the afternoon on January 15, 2009 in New York City. (Jerritt Clark/Getty Images)
A New York City Fire Department boat floats next to a US Airways plane which crashed into the Hudson River in the afternoon in New York City on Jan. 15, 2009. (Jerritt Clark/Getty Images)

That collision sucked enough geese into the engines to force the plane to crash land in the Hudson River—which resulted in a dramatic rescue and stardom for the pilot, Chesley Sullenberger.

The incident was immortalized in the Hollywood movie “Sully: Miracle on the Hudson,” directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as Sullenberger.

So, all in all, that avian aviation disaster worked out well, too.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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