Transport: Third Time Unlucky

For 19 months and 131 million miles, Boeing's 727 won nothing but praise from pilots, passengers and airlines. The first American-made medium-range jet —and the first three-engine airliner the U.S. has built since the famed Ford Trimotor—it handles easily, skims like a swallow in and out of small airports, and until last August had logged an exceptional record for reliability.

Then, approaching Chicago on a clear night, a United Airlines 727 from New York plunged into Lake Michigan, taking with it all 30 passengers and crew. Last week two more 727s crashed on approaches to airports at Cincinnati and Salt...

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