Disasters: The Way Out

Five thousand feet high and 40 miles out of San Francisco, a Pacific Air Lines turboprop F-27 checked in with the approach control tower at nearby Oakland. The radio conversation was routine until the last transmission from the plane, which was garbled. Control called: "Say again." But at that very moment the F-27 was screaming toward the earth to crash in an explosion of flame.

Pilot Ernest Clark, his copilot, stewardess and all 41 passengers were killed. Many of the passengers were returning from the gaming tables at Reno.

A task force of investigators began probing for the cause of the...

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