Air Safety: Delightful Destruction

A four-engined Douglas DC-7 skimmed at 140 m.p.h. across the desert sands near Phoenix, Ariz., clipped a pile of railroad ties that sheared off its propellers and landing gear. Next, the left wing smashed into a 25-ft. mound of dirt. Then the right slammed into three poles, which sliced off its tip. The fuselage hurtled onward, hopscotched over a 55-ft. hill, skidded to a shattering stop and burst into flames. Tense U.S. aviation experts broke into grins of delight; rarely had they witnessed such constructive destruction.

The spectacular crack-up was the most significant...

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