The U-2 is built for soaring at high altitudes--it can go above 70,000 feet. When it comes to landing, however, the aircraft needs some assistance. Because of a combination of awkward low-altitude handling and a long nose impeding the pilot's view ahead at ground level, a second U-2 pilot typically offers guidance from a chase car racing down the runway. And the pilot coming in for a landing is likely to be tired; missions can last 10 to 12 hours. That protracted time aloft (waaay aloft) is one of the features that has long been one of the U-2's big selling points, and a key reason the five-decade-old design is still in service today.
February 22, 2012 10:58 AM PST
Photo by: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Stephen Linch