Hawkeyes forced to take buses to Purdue

Rick Brown
Iowa football players prepare for a bus trip to Purdue on Friday.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Iowa's first road trip of the Big Ten football season didn't get off to a high-flying start.

A fire at an air-traffic control center in Aurora, Ill., on Friday afternoon grounded flights at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway Airports. It also grounded the Hawkeyes' flight from Cedar Rapids to West Lafayette, Ind., for Saturday's 11 a.m. game with Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium.

Iowa director of communications Steve Roe said that air-traffic restrictions in the Chicago area prevented the Hawkeyes' charter plane from getting to Cedar Rapids. So the Iowa party boarded several buses and departed Iowa City at approximately 3 p.m. for the six-hour ride. Iowa's flight had been scheduled to arrive in West Lafayette at 4 p.m. (Iowa time).

As of 5:10 p.m., about 1,300 flights had been canceled at O'Hare, a number that's close to half of the airport's daily schedule, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. At Midway, more than 450 flights -- nearly 70 percent of its entire Friday schedule -- had been axed. Nearby Milwaukee also suffered from the incident, which caused nearly half of the day's flights there to be canceled.

A 36-year-old FAA contract employee was located in the basement of the FAA Air Traffic Control Center suffering from self-inflicted stab wounds. Police say they believe the injured man set the fire and used some type of accelerant to start the blaze.

USA TODAY contributed to this report.