AFRICA: Big Bird's Death

Tom-toms throbbed through Liberia's steaming jungle. Their message: a big iron bird had fallen from the sky—find it. Tribesmen left their villages, padded along remote trails, paddled through swamps; Liberian constabulary crisscrossed the bush. Above, skimming the treetops, rumbled 35 search planes.

The big iron bird they were looking for was Pan American World Airways' Constellation Great Republic, New York-bound from Johannesburg. It had made routine stops at Leopoldville, Belgian Congo, and Accra, on the Gold Coast. At Accra, a faulty magneto on the right inboard engine had been repaired. Three and a half hours and nearly 700 miles...

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