SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The CSUB men’s basketball team set a world record for the shortest trip to South Dakota when their Northwest Airlines flight 511 from Minneapolis landed for less than a second before gusty winds forced an emergency takeoff in a touch-and-go landing at the Sioux Falls airport Sunday night.
Unable to land, the plane returned to Minneapolis. The team made it safely to Sioux Fall on another Northwest flight early Monday morning.
For the Roadrunners, however, it was difficult to get over the experience of being in an actual air emergency.
Flying through inclement weather, poor visibility and high, gusty winds made the long approach to landing difficult. As the plane’s back wheels touched down, passengers could feel the wind move the plane sideways.
“I looked out the window, and all of the sudden, there was the runway,” said CSUB Assistant Coach Geoff Probst, who was sitting on the left side of the airplane. “As soon as the back wheels touched down, we bounced and I could see the plane headed for the snow on the side of the runway. Then the pilot gunned it and we were taking off.”
“It was a surreal experience,” said CSUB Assistant Athletic Director Kevin Gilmore. “There really wasn’t time to comprehend what was happening until we were back in the air. The wheels bounced, it felt like we were being pushed to the left, and then we were flying again.
“It’s amazing how well-trained the flight crew must have been. They put the throttle down, put the wings back in take-off position and gave us an incredibly smooth take-off given he conditions, all in the span of a few seconds.”
For at least one member of the Roadrunner traveling party, this wasn’t an entirely new experience. Radio play-by-play man Corey Costelloe went through another touch-and-go landing a few years back in San Diego.
“This was a lot different,” said Costelloe. “The last time, it was 70 degrees and sunny in San Diego. The pilot just overshot the runway.”
CSUB stayed in Sioux Falls Sunday night/Monday morning. The Roadrunners will make the one-hour bus trip to Brookings today in preparation for their Tuesday night game at South Dakota State.
The ‘Runners return home to host defending WAC champion Boise State Saturday at 7 p.m. in Rabobank Arena.