National Affairs: Death in the Evening

New York's LaGuardia Field lay dreary and grey under a pelt of snow. In mid-afternoon 95 chattering, winter-clad passengers deposited themselves impatiently aboard Northeast Airlines' 2:45 p.m. flight to Miami, strapped themselves in their seats and settled back to contemplate the prospects of frolicking in the 80° warmth of Miami Beach—just four airline hours away, they thought.

The minutes on the ground stretched into hours, for LaGuardia was hemmed in by fog and snow to within three-quarters of a mile's visibility, and the unrelenting snow had piled up on the big wings of Northeast's DC-6A. Flight 823's Captain Alva Marsh, 48, a...

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