Science: Bill & the Little Beast

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In the chill of the desert dawn, a weird airplane, painted as white as a new refrigerator, was wheeled out of a hangar at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and towed at funeral-slow speed toward the level, eight-mile runway of Muroc Dry Lake. The plane was the Douglas X3, a radical, dangerous experiment in sustained supersonic flight. Most of the small gallery of onlookers—pilots, engineers and Douglas executives—had seen it many times before, and presumably most of them had confidence in it. But few could have escaped some twinges of misgiving...

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