Science: Expressways in the Sky

The seat-belt sign has flashed on, and the engines begin to whine as the big California-bound jet prepares to lumber out for takeoff at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. Suddenly the pilot announces that there will be a half-hour delay. Reason: traffic is backed up on the runways. Later, flying over the Rockies, the passengers have more reason to gripe. The plane is being tossed by turbulence, but the pilot cannot avoid it because ground controllers have refused to let him change course in the jammed air corridors. Finally, as San Francisco Bay...

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