As the title states, I'm looking for a short story about (nuclear powered?) planes that cannot land. I read it in an anthology many years ago and would love to find it again.

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    As it stands, this isn’t much to go on. Do you remember anything else? For example, more precise dates (even just “before the 90s“ might be useful). What perspective was the story told from? A passenger on one of the planes, or an external viewpoint? – alexwlchan Jan 22 '15 at 7:25
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    Why couldn't they land? – Valorum Jan 22 '15 at 7:29
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    This question made me think of Doctor Who - Gridlock episode. Do you remember anything about the cover of the book? – Dreamwalker Jan 22 '15 at 8:18
  • This tickles a few memories, mainly in the area of films like "Fail-safe" where the idea behind the infinite holding pattern is that the planes are a nuclear deterrent; even if the home nation is destroyed, those planes will go on to bomb the other locations. Haven't found the title of one of those, though. – FuzzyBoots Jan 22 '15 at 11:18
  • I have a vague memory of a post-nuclear-holocaust story with an aircraft of some kind that couldn't land because the ground was contaminated..? – Joe L. Jan 22 '15 at 17:50

Possibly A Colder War by Charles Stross? Nuclear powered bombers on constant standby are mentioned in the plot. The story itself is here. There's also mention of constantly-circling aircraft, those those are F-117s, not the nuclear bombers.

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  • Nuclear aircraft which never land are very old in SF --- e.g. Arthur C Clarke's Prelude To Space had one in 1951. – David Given Jan 25 '15 at 22:12

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