Steward John Harris was picking up the passengers' pillows and blankets in the main cabin of the Pan American Stratocruiser. It was a little after 1130 a.m. and the airliner, inbound from London, was flying at 200 m.p.h., 8,000 ft. above Long Island. Steward Harris heard a hissing noise.

He summoned an officer; they found that the locking mechanism on the main door had somehow loosened and the door had sprung. Air from the pressurized cabin was hissing through the crack. The officer went back to the cockpit. Several of the passengers, waking...

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