These U-2G Pilots Must Have Had Balls of Steel.
The U-2 Dragonfly is notoriously difficult to land. A great deal of skill is needed to control the aircraft at slow speeds, especially with crosswinds. Typical operations of the U-2 involve a ground support crew and Camaro vehicle to act as a spotter. So imagine our surprise when we found a video showing attempts to trap the U-2 on the deck of the USS Ranger (CVA-61) back in 1964. The U-2, specially modified and known as a U-2G, had additional equipment added to it in order to support carrier ops. The plane had strengthened gear and a tail hook to enable carrier operations.
The U-2G was operated by the CIA. Carrier operations were intended to allow spy flights over French nuclear testing areas in the South Pacific. While some pilots became carrier qualified, the program never became common.
The U-2 fleet continues to serve in the US Air Force today. The U-2 has continuously served for more than 50 years. Over the past decade, the U-2 has undergone a complete technological rebuilding. The latest model is the U-2S Dragon Lady. Although an old frame, the aircraft is considered reliable, responsive, and survivable, with an average mission success rate of 97 percent. She is powered by a General Electric F118-101 turbofan engine. The U-2S is a lightweight aircraft with glider-like characteristics. This model supports global security requirements in all weather conditions, day and night. The Dragon Lady received her most recent upgrade in 2012.