Pilot In Michigan Basketball Team’s Plane Crash Saved Lives By Breaking Protocol

When the Michigan basketball team was involved in a frightening plane accident last March, many lives were likely saved by a last-second decision from the pilot. The Wolverines were traveling from Detroit to Washington D.C. for the 2017 Big Ten tournament when the pilot aborted takeoff due to some issues with the plane’s equipment. The decision from the pilot, Mark Radloff, actually went against normal protocol but it ultimately proved to be the correct decision.

From the Detroit News:

What the captain felt in his hands, and the copilot had no way of knowing, was that the two-engine jetliner was not going to climb. The yoke “felt heavy, like there was a stack of bricks on the nose,” he told investigators, and so he immediately did exactly what pilots are trained to avoid.

Because 54-year-old pilot Mark Radloff overrode a century of aviation wisdom, the Wolverines were able to evacuate the crippled plane and fly to Washington, D.C., the next morning. They took the court in their practice uniforms, beat Illinois by 20 points and went on to win the Big Ten tournament.

Sometimes going against protocol is the right decision and the Wolverines are lucky that the pilot acted quickly and with conviction. The accident resulted in minor injuries for the 116 passengers on board, with Derrick Walton Jr. suffering the most serious injury which required just some stitches in his leg. But it could have been a lot worse if the plane ever made it into the air.