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NBA star appeals to NASA, Bill Nye to explain damaged plane

Commentary: The Oklahoma Thunder's Steven Adams is on a team jet that suffered serious damage to its nose, allegedly at 30,000 feet.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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Steven Adams take it to the hole.

screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Flying is very safe.

Which doesn't, of course, mean it's not without its dangers.

On Friday night, the NBA's Oklahoma Thunder was flying from Minneapolis to Chicago when its chartered plane suffered serious damage.

The team's center, Steven Adams, was one of several players who tweeted pictures of the Boeing 757-200's completely flattened nose. 

And he appealed to several scientific experts to explain what happened.

It's hard to imagine that these fine scientific minds would be able to give a sure answer, just as it's hard to imagine what might have struck the plane at 30,000 feet. 

You don't find many birds up there, for example. 

Currently, I can find no replies to Adams from any of the luminaries.

Although it's said that the elegantly named Rüppell's griffon vulture once struck a plane at 37,000 feet

And the common crane and swooper swans are also said to sometimes fly at heights near 30,000 feet.

The Oklahoma City Thunder didn't respond to a request for comment.

Delta Air Lines, from which the plane was chartered, admitted it wasn't clear what had happened.

An airline spokeswoman told me that the plane "sustained damage to its nose cone while on descent into Chicago." Which suggests not at 30,000 feet.

"Initial reports indicated a possible encounter with a bird," she added. "Maintenance continues to evaluate the aircraft."

That must have been one enormous bird, some might imagine.

Delta insisted the plane landed safely and no one was injured. 

Some of the players were clearly shaken. For example, recently acquired star Carmelo Anthony. 

Planes can suffer damage to the nose and still be entirely airworthy. 

A couple of years ago, an Icelandair 757 suffered a hole in its nose after being struck by lightning. It happily flew on for another 3,000 miles.

Some experts, though, were critical of the pilot's decision, as they said there could have been more serious structural damage to the plane that would have engendered danger.

In the case of the Oklahoma Thunder flight, though, there is still some mystery, as more than one player insisted that the damage had occurred not during landing, but at 30,000 feet.

Josh Huestis went to Stanford, if that makes a difference to you.