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Watch This U-2 Pilot Grease His Crosswind Landing Like a Boss

It Wasn’t Easy But The Dragon Lady Was Tamed

Official US Air Force Photograph

In the shadowy world of the Lockheed U-2 spy plane operations, it’s not exactly commonplace to observe these aircraft in flight. What’s even more uncommon is to have a nice clear shot of the approach, flare and landing of a U-2S configured with “super-pods” and to have the audio from the chase car, control tower, and pilot in the soundtrack. Very cool!

Official US Air Force Photograph

The U-2S in the video (call sign Dragon 21) is USAF serial 80-1090- the prototype U-2S, and is based at Beale Air Force Base (AFB) in California with the 9th Reconnaissance Wing. She was originally built as a TR-1 by the Lockheed Skunkworks in 1988.

A few things of which to take note:

First, the pilot is really working the throttles and has some nice yaw action going as he battles what was a considerable crosswind component on his approach to RAF Fairford in cloudy Gloucestershire, England.

Second, the Air Force chase car looks like it’s doing some flying of its own as it catches up to the U-2S and reads off the altitudes to the pilot before touchdown.

Third, the pilot really greases the landing- in a crosswind in a jet he can’t see out of very well to begin with.

And last, the jet, like every U-2, drops a wing when stopped due to the landing gear configuration, but this pilot just kisses the ground when he drops his wingtip. Welcome to England indeed. Nicely done Air Force!

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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