SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz had some trouble getting to Memphis for their scheduled game on Wednesday.
Minutes after the Jazz charter flight took off on Tuesday, the plane struck a bird (or birds), a Salt Lake International Airport spokesman said. The bird strike caused damage to the left engine and the plane was forced to turn around for an emergency landing.
KSL’s Chopper 5 showed images of the plane following the emergency landing with fire crews escorting the Delta 757 down the tarmac with the damage to the left engine was clearly visible. The fire crews were there as a precaution.
A Utah Jazz spokesman confirmed all passengers on board were safe.
Based on data from Flightradar24, the plane took off at 1:10 p.m., leveled off at about 8,200 feet and headed south across the valley. It then turned back around to land back at the airport.
“The end result of all of this is the same regardless of what it was,” Delta spokesman Anthony Black said. “The aircraft landed without an incident. It taxied back to its original location, and we will work to get another aircraft in there to get them to their ultimate destination.”
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) March 30, 2021
Multiple Jazz players reacted on social media with praying hand emojis after the flight landed safely. While the team is “a little rattled,” according to a source, the hope is for the team to have a flight Tuesday evening to get to Memphis in time for Wednesday’s game. However, that flight is still in question as the teams awaits the next step.
Bird strikes are relatively common. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, this is the sixth time this month a plane has struck a bird while leaving the Salt Lake International Airport, and the third time that it’s been a plane with a larger Class-D engine.
This story will be updated.
Contributing: Alex Cabrero, KSL-TV