Science: Happy Landings

As they circled over Geneva, Switzerland, passengers in the French-built Caravelle jetliner had considerable cause for alarm. The plane's landing gear was crippled, and the pilot was cautiously consuming excess fuel before he let down for a tricky emergency landing. Tanks almost empty, the Caravelle curved toward the field. There, just as its wheels touched down, the pilot popped a small drag parachute to check the plane's speed. For anxious seconds the ship ran level, losing speed rapidly; then the right wingtip scraped the concrete; the plane veered slowly off the runway and...

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