Butler plane had emergency landing, team members were ‘crying’
The Butler men’s basketball team was involved in a frightening incident Thursday night when its charter flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York lost cabin pressure and had to make an emergency landing.
The Bulldogs were flying to Indianapolis after a 76-73 loss to St. John’s, and the cabin lights went out in the plane about 25 minutes into the flight. Butler head coach Chris Holtmann described the scene.
“It started to get really cold, and the plane went completely dark,” Holtmann told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. “Then all the oxygen masks came flying down, and the flight attendant told everyone to put the masks on. She kept repeating it. We had a really rapid descent. In the span of 10 or 12 minutes, we went from 35,000 feet to 10,000 feet.”
Fortunately, the pilot was able to land the plane safely in Pittsburgh shortly after midnight. Holtmann said some players were yelling in panic and staff members texted their wives, wondering if they were going to make it out alive.
“As a coach, you are obviously thinking of your family,” the coach said. “But you are also thinking about all the young men on the plane. I was shook. It was scary, we had guys crying.”
Holtmann estimated that those on board the plane used the oxygen masks for about 15 minutes, and even the pilot later admitted “that was some of the longest minutes of my life.”
The situation sounds eerily similar to one that took place with an NCAA football team a few years back.
Holtmann said he was experiencing a severe headache upon landing and some members of the team complained of ear pain, but the important thing is everyone landed safely. Kudos to the pilot and crew for that.