Flock of birds delay the Utah Jazz on their way to Memphis

The Utah Jazz were forced to make an emergency landing on March 30, 2021 after a flock of birds crashed into the plane and damaged the engine. Within minutes of the chartered flight to Memphis, the plane was forced to turn back to the Salt Lake City International Airport to land.

The bird strike caused an engine fire and loss of power to the Boeing 757-200, according to a statement released by the Utah Jazz. “Players were clearly shaken by the incident…but no one on the plane was harmed.”

Players quickly turned to social media following the incident displaying their relief in the outcome of a scary situation.

Royce O’Neale, small forward for the Utah Jazz, tweeted saying, “God is good,” and Rudy Gobert, two-time all-star, also tweeted “It’s a beautiful day!”

All-star teammate, Donovan Mitchell, chose not to travel with the team to Memphis as his fear of flying was heightened. Mitchell took his own time to process what had happened and to fully grasp the traumatic situation.

“Some things are just bigger than the game of basketball, and that right there, was it for me,” says Mitchell on why he chose to not board the flight.

“I remember hearing about [the incident],” says Ethan Lignell, a sophomore at Hillcrest High School. “I would’ve been shaken up just like they were. I would not have gotten back on the flight.”

The rest of the team was able to board a different plane several hours later and safely depart for Memphis in preparation for their matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 31, 2021.