CHINA SEAS: Gunfire in the Skies

Like all commercial airliners, the Cathay Pacific Skymaster (a Douglas DC-4), bound from Bangkok to Hong Kong, was making the usual detour around Communist-held Hainan Island early one morning last week. It was well out to sea, in the approved international corridor. Suddenly, two prop-driven fighters, the red markings bright on their cream-colored paint, flew up alongside, dropped back, and stitched through the airliner from behind with cannon and machine-gun fire. The Skymaster's outboard port engine caught fire; the next burst knocked out the outboard starboard engine, and set the wing tanks ablaze. In the cabin, passengers cowered in...

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