A flight carrying Kansas basketball players, coaches and other athletic department personnel had to return to San Jose, Calif., for an emergency landing shortly after its departure Sunday.
The Jayhawks, who were returning to Lawrence following a 72-56 victory over Stanford at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif., were in the air for roughly 20 minutes when one of the passenger jet's engines failed, KU announced in a news release. The pilot contacted the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, where the flight returned and landed safely.
"Thankful to report that everyone onboard is safe and sound," a KU representative tweeted at 7:52 p.m. Sunday.
The KU athletic department stated in the release that it is "grateful to the pilots and the entire flight crew of Swift Air," the Phoenix-based airline operating the charter flight. The Jayhawks will remain in San Jose overnight and return to Lawrence on Monday "once the plans have been finalized."
The flight was carrying about 60 individuals, a group that also included KU donors, athletic director Jeff Long, associate athletics director for public relations Dan Beckler and other department staff.
Beckler spoke to The Topeka Capital-Journal about the experience in a Sunday night phone interview, stating that he felt "a different type of turbulence" shortly after the engine failure.
"It wasn't like a loud boom, but it was just something that didn't sound right," Beckler recalled. "The flight attendants were looking out the window to kind of see what was going on. ... Everybody on the plane was basically looking around like, what's going on, trying to figure it out."
Flight attendants made the announcement about the engine failure and the rerouted path back to San Jose.
"Honestly there was never any, the plane wasn't ever shaking really bad. There was a little vibration as we were turning back," Beckler said. "The pilot never lost control. ... It was really just a normal flight from the standpoint of coming back. Normal landing — it wasn't any softer or harder than you would've expected."
Beckler said cheers and applause broke out after the successful landing.
"Just grateful," Beckler said.
Several other individuals aboard the flight took to social media to share their experience after the incident.
KU senior associate athletics director for development Ryan White tweeted a 10-second video of the plane's wing captured after the engine failure. Jayhawk junior forward Silvio De Sousa, meanwhile, noted that he hasn't seen his family in two years in his own Twitter post.
"Gotta appreciate and thank the man up above every single minute of your life," wrote De Sousa, who included a prayer emoji. "Thank God."
Junior guard Marcus Garrett summed it up by simply stating that he was "blessed." Senior forward Mitch Lightfoot, who is redshirting this season, struck a similar tone.
"Never prayed like that before," Lightfoot wrote. "Thank the Lord!"
NBC Bay Area reported that fire crews were on hand as a precautionary measure upon the flight's landing, responding to a call made just before 5:30 p.m. PST.