AVIATION: Raven Among Nightingales

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For U.S. airlines, this winter was one of the worst. On one of its dark days, dour Donald W. Douglas rolled his first postwar plane, the DC-6, out of his Santa Monica plant. A fat-bellied big brother of the famed DC-4, the plane was sold to United Air Lines, Inc. and its boss William Allan Patterson, who looks and sometimes sounds like a small, precise adding machine. Patterson thought that his new buy was a good plane. And his line badly Heeded such a plane. But he had no intention of putting it into service until he was sure....

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