Georgia coach Mark Fox on airplane involved in near-crash on runway

Mark Fox was about to take off to see the Miami Heat’s playoff game. (USATSI)

We almost had a huge, national news story — and potential tragedy — on Wednesday morning. Fortunately, the pilot of Delta flight 873 was alert and dodged what would have been a full-speed runway collision between his plane and another on the runway at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

Among the passengers on Delta flight 873: Georgia coach Mark Fox. reports:

“We were running full throttle, getting ready to take off,” Fox told ESPN on Wednesday. “And the pilot slammed on the brakes.”

Fox was en route from Atlanta to Miami to see Miami Heat assistant Keith Smart, who has been battling cancer. Fox said they have known each other since the 1980s, when Fox was a high school coach and Smart was in the junior college ranks.

Smart, of course, is most famous for hitting the winning shot in the 1987 national title game, lifting Indiana past Syracuse. Fox tweeted Wednesday afternoon:

For more context on the near-catastrophe, a sports columnist from the Charlotte Observer already has a piece upon what it was like to be on the plane as it slammed on the breaks just before lifting into the sky.

“The screeching those brakes made will haunt me for awhile,” Scott Fowler writes for the Observer. “I have flown hundreds of times, but I have never heard anything quite like that.”

Thankfully, everyone walked off the plane unharmed if not a little rattled.

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