Airman Magazine recently profiled a U-2 ground crew as they assisted the Dragon Lady during landing at a deployed location. The U-2 is an amazing spy plane. It can fly upwards of 70,000 feet and provide imagery and tools that more modern platforms like the Global Hawk still can’t match.
Takeoffs and landings are a challenge for even the most experienced pilots though. The plane is really just a big gangly glider with long wings, a jet engine, and poor visibility out the cockpit. The typical visual cues for a pilot during landing aren’t available due to the design of the aircraft. Without the assistance of a spotter in the chase car, the pilot would struggle to safely land. Working as a team, the spotter provides the pilot the necessary information to enhance his/her situational awareness and safely get the plane back on the ground.
Mobile chase car drivers act as a second pair of eyes and ears for U-2 pilots during their launch and landings, making up for the pilot’s limited movement and vision.
A U-2 Dragon Lady reconnaissance aircraft pilot from the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron explains the role of mobile chase cars at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Dec. 22, 2015.
Posted by Airman Magazine on Thursday, January 7, 2016