Chasing The U-2 'Dragon Lady' On Runway

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USAF U-2s taking off from Beale Air Force Base and landing at RAF Fairford before taking off again. The U-2 'Dragon Lady' aircraft was originally designed to fly high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions during the Cold War to gather intelligence on opposition forces. Today, the U-2S flies in support of a variety of missions from ground combat to disaster relief. A “mobile” follows behind the aircraft in a chase car to assist the pilot with altitude and position calls. Mobiles are U-2 pilots who assist during taxi, takeoff and landing.

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  1. 35615259
    35615259 Nov 07, 2016

    As one of the contractor managers of the U-2 Ground Station in Germany and the Flight Planning/Mission Planning System at RAF Alconbury, I was given the opportunity to see the missions form the aircraft perspective. Witnessing the suit up, take-off, and the landing was a part of the program. The landing included a ride-along in the new Mustang SSP chase car designated Mobile One. This was the first time the new car had been driven by the Pilot assigned to the chase car support that day. As the mission that day had been a long one, it was getting dark as we waited on the apron. Finally we saw the lights of the U-2 approaching, and as it passed overhead the pilot accelerated into the left turn, and immediately lost control of the car. By the time it was straightened out the Pilot had to accelerate to well over 100 mph to catch the jet as it approached the landing as the darkness settled in After the U-2's Pilot taxied to the hangars and was helped out of the plane we returned to the drop off point and thanked our Pilot for probably the most exciting ride of my life, and a highpoint in the eighteen years I spent on the program.

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