Plane Carrying Michigan Men’s Basketball Team Slides Off Runway

The Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball team and staff were among the 109 passengers on a plane that slid off the runway because of high winds. Jon Sanderson/Twitter

The 109 passengers and seven crew members of an Ameristar Charters flight out of Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan, are all safe after their airplane slid off the runway on Wednesday. The Michigan Wolverines men's basketball team and staff were among those on board, as they were leaving for the Big Ten tournament; however, their plans were altered when high winds caused the pilots of the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 to abort the takeoff.

According to reports, the weather at Willow Run was "very similar" to observations reported just minutes earlier at both Ann Arbor Municipal and Detroit Metropolitan Airports. Ann Arbor was experiencing southwest winds of 33 mph with gusts as high as 53 mph, while Detroit dealt with west winds at 38 mph, according to reported conditions.

On Wednesday afternoon, DTE Energy reported that approximately 500,000 customers were without power in southeast Michigan, which could explain why Willow Run’s weather system was not reporting between noon and 4 p.m.

The FAA and NTSB will be investigating the overrun incident, while airport officials released this statement on Wednesday:

"Shortly before 3 p.m. today, a charter flight aborted takeoff at Willow Run Airport and went off the end of Runway 23L. The Airport Authority Public Safety and Operations teams responded. There were no injuries to the seven crew members and 109 passengers, including members of the University of Michigan men’s basketball team. The MD-83 was operated by Ameristar Charters. As a result of this incident, Willow Run Airport remains closed at this time."

Michigan players and staff members tweeted their reactions, images and video from the accident site. Tyler Davis, a team manager, offered an up-close look at the plane’s resting spot.

Wolverines strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson offered additional perspective on the plane’s wild, short journey.

The team successfully departed from Detroit, in style, on Thursday morning and arrived in Washington DC without problem.


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