HEROES: The Nightmare Fall

Lightning slashed the white peaks of the boiling thunderclouds below as a pair of silver-and-orange F8U Crusader jet fighters streaked smoothly down the Carolina coast on the return leg of a high-altitude flight to Boston. Lieut. Colonel William Henry Rankin, U.S.M.C., sitting under the curved glass canopy of the lead jet, took his two-plane flight over an angry anvil of cloud, sat back casually as his eye ran across the instrument panel. Altitude: 47,000 feet. True air speed: 500 knots. It was a crisp, sunlit flight, and the only problem in sight...

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