TRANSPORT: Fire on the Hill

At 5:25 in the morning, darkness still cloaked the wilderness-rimmed U.S. Army airfield at Stephenville, Newfoundland. Flying conditions, however, were excellent. There was a 5,000-foot ceiling and ten-mile visibility. A steady, eight-mile flow of chill air moved across the vast runways. American Overseas Airlines' Berlin-bound DC-4 Eire fled past on its take-off with the blended snarl of its four engines reassuringly shattering the silence. Men on duty in the control tower watched it perfunctorily as it climbed and shrank from sight on its hop to Shannon, Eire.

But six minutes later...

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