Aeronautics: Flight of the Sea Serpent

The long, subtly curving fuselage, the strange little canard wing tacked on near the nose, the great, boxlike maw of the engine air intakes have all combined to earn North American's XB-70A the mildly derisive nickname, "Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent." But as it taxied out onto the runway at Palmdale, Calif., last week, Cecil seemed to come alive with new dignity. That single plane designed to cruise at three times the speed of sound may be all that is left of the Air Force dream of big supersonic manned bombers, but...

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