While the Utah Jazz was taking off Tuesday afternoon to fly to Memphis for Wednesday’s game, Jordan Clarkson was a “bad kid” and woke up to pick something out of his bag.
Just as he was about to return to his seat, everyone heard – and felt – the boom.
Their chartered plane collided with a flock of birds, tearing the plane’s left engine apart and creating a feeling of helpless awe, as many on board wondered if they were close to death.
“For a good 10 or 15 minutes, I think we’re all on board that flight we were wondering if we’d be here today,” said Mike Conley at the post-match briefing on Wednesday. “That’s how dangerous it is for us. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know some men were trying to message the family, just in case. It was that kind of situation.”
Clarkson endorsed that.
“To a lot of the people on that plane, it was like one of those flights where you were texting – as I saw in the movies where the plane revolves around the plane crash,” he said. “I got to that point, where we were all on the plane like, ‘This could really be the end. “
Conley recalled how Clarkson, Joe Engels, Derek Feavers, and Mai Oni were all between the wings when “it suddenly felt like there was an explosion.”
He described the feeling as if the plane collided with something massive. Then, the left useless engine, the plane is stepped on the side. Then the height was lost. Those sitting in the rear of the plane reported seeing flames coming from the engine. The plane started shaking violently.
“It was clear that something was wrong with the plane,” Connelly said. “It felt like the plane was crashing in the air.”
The guard added that while the flight crew was working on diagnosing what had happened and restoring control of the plane, the passengers were feeling “utterly helpless”.
Coach Quinn Snyder, who recounted the situation before the match, described the silent seriousness of the moments that followed.
“One of the engines blew up,” he said, “and there is time – in this case, maybe a 10 or 15-minute window – where the pilots are assessing the situation, and nobody really knows what’s going on.” “… the pilots – you get recognition for their expertise, their training, and everything they do to keep us all safe – they’re going through their various protocols and lists, and while it’s happening, you’re in limbo. That’s a weird and painful feeling.”
Clarkson recalled the calming effect it had when the flight attendants, and then the pilot, stepped on the intercom to explain what happened, how they were managing the plane and returning to Salt Lake City International Airport.
Not that their words can completely alleviate the fear that has arisen.
“They said they were flying. So that was definitely a comforting thing. But we were all looking out the window like, ‘Hey, man, land anywhere. Clarkson said. “Please just put this plane on the ground and let us live on and move on.”
The plane landed safely at the airport. I got off the jazz plane, waited there for a few hours for a replacement plane to arrive, and then finally headed to Memphis – quietly – on Tuesday night.
Well, everyone except for all-star keeper Donovan Mitchell. Shortly after their second plane took off, Jazz announced that Mitchell would miss the match, and that he had not been with the team for personal reasons.
Snyder politely objected when asked whether the combination of Mitchell’s publicly acknowledged fear of flying and the Tuesday accident was the reason for the goalkeeper’s absence (“I’ve never commented on personal situations with any of our players,” he said, “I hope you can respect that”), on Although Clarkson admitted that this was the reason.
He said, “It was a crazy situation – I totally understand why Don wasn’t showing up.”
Snyder I did He says the team met on Wednesday morning to give everyone a chance to work through their lingering feelings.
Those stressful and uncertain moments, he explained, can only evoke a variety of intense emotions.
“I don’t know that an experience like this moved so suddenly and far away. Everyone was affected in different ways, all of which are very important.” And that wasn’t something we would have solved by just talking about everything, but I think it was important to admit what we all went through. [Tuesday]And indeed, the same sense of gratitude and appreciation for the vulnerability that we all live in, sometimes without being aware of it. “
They certainly realize that now.
“He put a perspective on life for all of us,” Connelly said. “We are all grateful to be here and do what we love to do.
He added: “… We thank that it was not as dangerous as it could be, but it was frightening.”