Fireball In the Mojave

A jet crashes on purpose

Out in the clear desert daylight at Edwards Air Force Base north of Los Angeles, the big passenger jet circled at 2,300 ft, then started its descent.

The seat belts were buckled, the overhead compartments properly latched. The landing gear, however, was retracted: the Boeing 720 touched the ground hurtling on its belly at 170 m.p.h. Screeching along out of control, it rammed stanchions along the runway. Its left wing was ripped from the fuselage. Soon the plane was engulfed by an enormous fireball—and then a second fire. Not far from the crash zone, a crowd of witnesses,...

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