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!
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!