The blackest day in U.S. airline history came with a great mass of cold air from the Arctic. It thrust a freezing finger as far south as the Texas panhandle, rested its chilly knuckles on the Great Lakes, spumed in ice, rain and mist where its skin touched warmer air.

Within 24 hours this Arctic fist (to weathermen, a "Polar Continental Air Mass") produced two disastrous crashes; 34 men & women died.

First to go was Northwest Airlines Flight 5. Westbound from Chicago to Seattle, around 2 a.m. the big DC-3 rumbled above the blotted-out field at Fargo, N. Dak. Captain...

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