Science: Trained Lifeboat

One way to rescue the crew of an airplane forced down at sea is to drop a lifeboat. Chief difficulty: the survivors, whether on rafts or swimming, have a hard time getting to the lifeboat, particularly in a stiff wind. Last week the Air Force announced a solution for this problem: a radio-controlled lifeboat that picks up survivors as if it were a seagoing taxi.

When a rescue plane (a modified 6-29) spots the survivors, it drops the lifeboat on a giant (100 ft. in diameter) parachute. When the lifeboat hits the water, a radio operator in the aircraft starts the...

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