Lanny Ross struggled to push his 78-year-old mother through the surf toward shore.
On a cool, cloudy October afternoon, his two-seater plane had smacked into the Chesapeake Bay, stranding them both amid five-foot waves.
His mother's right eye was swollen shut, her teeth had pierced her bottom lip, and her nose was broken. Miles from land, the sun was setting and they were shivering, when his mother spoke.
Hold my hand, she told him.
What's wrong? he asked her.
Hold my hand, she said again.
He grabbed her fingers and held them for a moment. Then he went back to pushing her toward land.
Lanson "Lanny" C. Ross III, 48, had lived far from...