AIRLINES: Hurtling into More Storms

Like a ghost from the past, an ancient blue-and-silver Swallow biplane last week zipped down the runway and into a dawn sky over Pasco, Wash. About two hours and 244 miles later the tiny two-seater landed at Boise, Idaho, to a cheering crowd. The journey was a rerun of the nation's first airmail flight by an outfit (Varney Air Lines) that later became part of United Airlines, and its purpose was to mark a half-century of commercial aviation in the U.S. The milestone, however, comes at a less than auspicious time for most major carriers. Buffeted by a recession-induced...