‘Miracle Cornfield Landing’: 96-year-old remembers the night he saved an NBA team


(KARE) — Sixty years later he still thinks about it.

“How could you not,” Harold Gifford says.

Gifford thinks about the night he safely landed the NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers in an Iowa cornfield.

“It is on mind a lot. I relive it,” Gifford says of the event known in Carroll, Iowa as “The Miracle Cornfield Landing.”

Gifford was in the co-pilot’s seat flying the Lakers from a game in St. Louis to Minneapolis.

The team’s DC-3 lost electricity shortly after takeoff, leaving the plane with no radio and no lights, beyond a flashlight Gifford always kept in his lap.

Caught in a massive snowstorm and running low on fuel, Gifford and the two other pilots knew they were running out of options.

“So, I had to make a pretty gutsy decision at that point,” Gifford said.

The air force veteran brought the plane low over Carroll. So low, Gifford recalls seeing a Hamm’s beer billboard.

“Water towers are 125 feet high, and we were below that,” Gifford said.

Outside of town, he chose a cornfield.

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