AVIATION: Gamble in the Sky

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In an office atop a low, green building on the outskirts of Seattle, Wash. stands a potted, prickly-pear cactus plant. The office is the headquarters of William Mc-Pherson Allen, president of Boeing Airplane Co.; the cactus was given to him almost nine years ago as a symbol of his job when Allen took over as Boeing's new president. Scrawny, stunted and thorny, the plant then symbolized Boeing's postwar plight, with two of the company's plants silent and empty, 38,000 of its wartime workers out of jobs. Today, President Allen's bitter little...

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