AVIATION: The Dreaded Crash

As Masai herdsmen looked on in horror, the inevitable finally occurred last week: the first fatal crash of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. Seconds after takeoff from Nairobi, Lufthansa Flight LH 540 en route to Johannesburg shuddered violently, then sank tail first from an altitude of less than 200 ft. Lufthansa reported that for reasons still not clear, the leading-edge wing flaps were not in the extended position after takeoff. Thus, the aircraft did not have enough wing lift to climb.

The accident was not the massive disaster it might have been for an elephantine airplane with a capacity of...

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