The LSU baseball team was set to fly out of Baton Rouge for College Station, Texas, at about 11 p.m. Thursday, more than seven hours after its original flight was grounded because of mechanical issues.
The team was taking a different charter plane than the one that had wing flap issues, forcing it to return Thursday afternoon to the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport.
LSU (34-11-1, 12-8-1 Southeastern Conference) begins a three-game series at Texas A&M (28-18, 10-11) on Friday.
“I talked to them a lot about dealing with that stuff as it comes,” coach Paul Mainieri said after deboarding the first plane at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. “Bad weather, stuff like that. We’ll roll with it.”
The first plane took off at about 4 p.m. and was in the air for 10-15 minutes before heading back to the airport.
The plane could not reach cruising altitude.
The team sat on the plane for more than an hour before the second attempt at departing. When pilots were going through the preflight check, the wing flaps didn’t pass the test, Mainieri said.
“Guess in the pilot world,” Mainieri said, “you just get two strikes.”
There was no turbulence while on the initial flight, but the plane landed with fire trucks and police vehicles escorting it onto the runway, Mainieri said.
“Little scary,” the coach said. “We weren’t high enough and the pilot came on and said we had a mechanic problem. Fire engines and police were chasing after us (landing).”
The plane circled the airport for “a while,” Mainieri said, to burn fuel before landing.
Wing flaps on a plane are used to reduce the speed at which an aircraft can be safely flown and to increase the angle of descent for landing.
The team was scheduled to practice at Texas A&M at 6:15 p.m. Thursday. Instead, players practiced at Alex Box Stadium on Thursday night.