Lakers’ history: 1960 emergency landing in an Iowa cornfield

Back in January of 1960, the Minneapolis Lakers nearly met disaster as their chartered DC-3 met with electrical failure.

In a clip from a 2010 episode of True NBA, the late Jim Huber narrates the story of how the Lakers plane nearly went down “in the midst of a Midwestern blizzard.”


“It started getting cold on the plane,” said “Hot” Rod Hundley. “The plane was in trouble.”

Trying to find their way back home from a Sunday afternoon game in St. Louis, the Lakers nearly lost interim coach Jim Pollard as well as Elgin Baylor, Tommy Hawkins, Hundley and six other players.

“For a time,” co-pilot Harold Gifford told the L.A. Times from his home in Woodbury, Minn., “we weren’t sure if we’d make it.”

Gifford managed to crash-land the plane in an Iowa cornfield, saving his passengers and the Lakers franchise.

“Before we touched down, it was deathly quiet on that plane,” Gifford said. “But as soon as we came to a stop, everybody just roared. Oh my God, it was overwhelming.”


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Twitter: @EricPincus