The Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball team is thankful to be healthy and alive. The squad’s plane caromed off the runway before taking off for a flight to the Big Ten Tournament in Washington D.C. and, while that was widely reported in the immediate aftermath on Wednesday, details are beginning to surface about what transpired.
Brendan F. Quinn of MLive.com brings word of the pilot’s heroism and actions to avoid catastrophe:
According to those who were there, Michigan’s team plane never lifted off on Wednesday. Amid heavy winds, the plane sped down the runway before the pilot slammed on the brakes, sending the plane sliding through the end of the runway.
The landing gear collapsed and the plane went through a fence and, as one descriptor said, “the pilot opted to veer to the side instead of going toward buildings.”There was a ravine ahead. The plane stopped just short of it.
While the full details are both terrifying and thought-provoking, an anonymous witness praised the pilot for “undoubtedly” saving the lives of everyone on board.
“That pilot undoubtedly saved our lives,” said one witness, who requested to not be quoted directly. “He knew something wasn’t right.”
There were tales of players crying when talking to loved ones and even minor injuries, including one to Michigan’s most indispensable player in point guard Derrick Walton. In the end, though, the pilot did his job incredibly and managed to stave off impending disaster.
Michigan took the floor, albeit amid Big Ten incompetence, on Thursday afternoon but it never would have happened without a fantastic performance from the team’s pilot.