GERMANY -- Panthers Head Coach John Fox and three other NFL coaches are traveling overseas to visit U.S. Troops and their military plane made a quick landing after striking a bird during takeoff in Germany.
A spokesperson for the Panthers says the plane struck a bird on Tuesday during takeoff. The pilots quickly landed the plane to inspect the damage. The plane later landed safely in the Persian Gulf.
Eagles coach Andy Reid, Vikings coach Brad Childress, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis are all on the coach’s USO trip with Fox. They’re touring U.S. military bases in the Persian Gulf.
NFL Director of Community Affairs David Krichavsky is also on the trip. Here is his account of the incident as posted on PhiladelphiaEagles.com:
"We boarded the C17 around 8pm as planned and chatted with the amiable flight crew once we were onboard. The pilot invited the coaches up to the cockpit to experience take-off from that unique vantage point; however, the pilot noted that there was only room for one person in the cockpit to be able to really see what was going on. All the coaches were interested in going upfront, but they finally decided to give the choice seat to Coach Reid, as he is the longest-serving head coach in the group.
"Everyone then settled into their seats, and our plane headed down the runway and got airborne. After climbing in the sky for only 30-60 seconds though, there was a solid thump on the right side of the airplane. Then the 'load masters' (airmen who are responsible for the cargo in a plane) who were in the cabin of the C17 with us started running around the plane and looking out the windows a bit frantically. Something was clearly amiss. A minute later, one of the pilots came on the load speaker and announced, 'We hit a bird on take-off. We don't know what damage has been done to the plane. We are currently circling and will be landing back at Ramstein soon.'
"Although 3 of the 4 coaches were up in the cockpit and none of them – including Coach Reid – had any control over the plane, Coach Reid got all the abuse for this accident. As soon as the head coach of the Eagles descended from the cockpit, the group was ready for him: 'Who let Captain Eagle up there? . . . Nice work, Birdman. . . Reid is done; no more flying for him!' I think I even heard Coach Fox mention that it was a good thing that we didn't have to call in Sully for the emergency landing.
"As a result of our avian accident, our C17 was grounded and we were stranded for the night in Germany. Our travels further 'downrange' would have to wait. Brad Childress summed it up best, 'I guess a USO tour really is like a football game. You go in with a game plan. But to be good, you have to be flexible, know how to deal with ambiguity, and adjust.'”