Science: Dangerous Wake

Wise pilots do not have to be told to fly clear of the wakes of nearby aircraft, especially big ones. They know that the turbulent air behind big, fast planes may be full of invisible, wing-racking bumps. And the danger has been growing worse as airliners boost both speed and size. Last week Aerodynamicist William A. McGowan of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported just how dangerous jet-age wake bumps can be.

When the air flows past an airplane's wings, it slips sideways past the tips and swirls into two twisting eddies that linger in the plane's wake for as long...

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