California's assault on the Mediterranean fruit fly reached full strength Thursday with five pesticide-laden helicopters spraying orchards. Battle planners frustrated by two days of mechanical problems limiting aerial attacks against the pest were stymied again for hours as they tried to launch two catch-up waves of malathion-bearing flights. Fog, mechanical problems, and confusion over airspace held three choppers on the ground as two others buzzed 15 square miles of the infested zone. Only about half of the 40-square-mile- area targeted for the day was sprayed.
Meanwhile, Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. awaited word from President Reagan on his plea that Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo Counties be declared disaster areas eligible for federal aid to fight the growing infestation.