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NBA star Steven Adams asks NASA, Bill Nye to explain damaged plane

Plane damaged mid-air

Flying is very safe. Which doesn't, of course, mean it's not without its dangers.

On Friday night, the Oklahoma City 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 some well-known 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. Unfortunately, there were no immediate replies to Adams from 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 CNET 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 City Thunder's 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.

This article originally appeared on CNET.

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