Lane Lambert was in the air above the Mississippi River, trying to grab onto the armrest.
It was Jan. 9, 2009, six days before Sully Sullenberger became a household name, and the Milwaukee Admirals’ flight from Memphis to San Antonio had started with a loud bang. Upon takeoff, something had gone wrong when the pilot tried to bring the landing gear up.
Now they were circling the Mississippi with Lambert, the team’s head coach, competing with his assistant, Brad Lauer, for the best piece of plastic to hold onto.
“They were sending messages home,” the team’s radio announcer Aaron Sims recalled.
The plane hovered...