Can you imagine traveling by plane and having two engines blow out mid-flight?
Chicago’s charted plane was on its way to Indianapolis when near-disaster struck.
Bulls radio analyst Bill Wennington described the incident on ESPN 1000’s “Waddle and Silvy Show”: “Apparently a compressor in engine No. 3 had some trouble, and it sounded like it exploded, but I guess it’s like a jet engine backfire, which is very loud. Sparks fly out of it. It happened actually right after … the captain thrusts the engines forward and it revs up and starts to go, about three seconds after that you hear a ‘Boom!’ ‘Oh, what was that, are we stopping?’ The plane keeps going down [the runway] and you’re thinking, ‘Oh no, why aren’t we stopping?’
“It was funny, because we’re in the back of the plane, and the engines are right by us, and we hear it. They can’t hear it [in the front of the plane]. And apparently they couldn’t feel anything. And so we take off fine, and about five minutes later, two more booms, ‘Boom!, Boom!,’ and a couple people saw flames and sparks and stuff flying out [while looking out of] the window. We’re all thinking, ‘Well, it’s been nice.'”
Fortunately for everybody on the plane — and Bulls fans around the world — the pilots turned the plane around and returned safely to O’Hare airport. Since then, the team has been getting around in planes loaned out by the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Bulls television analyst Stacey King was also on the plane. Not surprisingly, he was terrified. Said King: “Honestly, it was really scary. We thought we were going to go down. And so they turned us back around and got us back to the airport. We made it back safely. … So, thank God, we made it back and we were blessed to land safely. After getting on the ground that night, I was ready to get on a bicycle and ride to Indy. I was shook for a little bit.
“I’m not going to sit up here and lie, if I had a teddy bear, I probably would have been grabbing it. It was a frightening situation. Our pilots did a good job of getting us back down. You can fly with one engine. We had an extra engine, so they had two engines left. So we weren’t in any kind of danger as far as doing a nose dive. Whenever you see flames come out of an engine, that’s a little bit scary.”
A little bit, yeah.
There have been several cases of prominent athletes and entire athletic teams dying in plane accidents, including the University of Evansville Men’s Basketball Team in 1977. As recently as 2011, a plane carrying the Lokomotiv hockey team of the KHL crashed into a river bank near near Yaroslavl, Russia, killing all but one of the team’s players.
Personally, I’m grateful the 2012-13 Bulls weren’t added to that list. Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing, right? And it sure puts the team’s recent struggles against good teams and overall terrible offense in perspective.
At least until the next game.