Science: Thicket Without Thorns

Dawn was breaking over Edwards Air Force Base at California's Muroc Dry Lake when the husky, dark-browed test pilot chugged up to the flight line in a battered model A Ford coupe. Lieut. Colonel Frank K. Everest Jr., 35, wiggled into his girdle-tight high-altitude suit, picked up his crash helmet and headed for the runway where a four-engined B50 waited. Clamped tight to the B-50's fat belly was "Pete" Everest's aircraft—a sleek, needle-nosed little job with "Bell X2" painted on its sides.

Pilot Everest climbed aboard the B-50, waved to the waiting crew, sat...

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