ARMED FORCES: On the Ground

As it neared the end of a routine flight one day last week, a B-52 jet bomber from California's Castle Air Force Base went into a steepening glide over the San Joaquin Valley. Fire burst from its right wing, and near the town of Madera, 40 miles short of its home base, the big plane plummeted to earth. Five crewmen died; two, the pilot and another officer, parachuted to safety.

The next day the Air Force, for the second time in less than eight months, grounded all its $8,000,000, 600-m.p.h. B-52s, said they would stay that way until investigators had determined...

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