, 2023-01-22 12:42:00,
The men are cold. Outside the airplane, the temperature is about 5 degrees. Inside, it’s no warmer.
Normally, the crew would be wearing heated flight suits. But this is wartime and the men are on a training mission. Soldiers flying combat missions get first shot at the heated suits and there aren’t enough for everyone in training.
To take the chill off, the crew uses an old aviation trick. They descend, dropping the plane from the standard training altitude of 8,000 feet to 4,000, which raises the temperature inside about 12 degrees. It’s a safe enough maneuver. Nothing in their flight path is above 4,000 feet.
Most of the men stay in their seats, huddled over their instruments. One, the top turret gunner, wanders into the tail section to catch a nap. It’s almost 1 in the morning.
Slowly, imperceptibly, the plane strays from its intended path.
The men are in the home stretch of a three-hour mission. As the plane cruises above the Vermont countryside, perhaps they find time to chat briefly about what they’ll do next time they get leave. Maybe they glance out the windows to check their bearings. Not much to see, though. It’s a moonless night and most of the homes in the valley below are blacked out.
There is no way they can see the mountain looming dead ahead.
‘There has got to be more to this’
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