Lockheed U-2 celebrates it's 50th birthday

evangilder

"Shooter"
19,051
203
Sep 17, 2004
Moorpark, CA
www.vg-photo.com
The Lockheed U-2 celebrates it's 50th birthday today. Celebrations were last week at the Palmdale plant, celebrated by workers at the plant and guests.

Designed by Kelly Johnson, it made it's maiden flight on August 4, 1945. In June of 1956, it made it's first flight over the Soviet Union. The aircraft became very well known after Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960. It provedd very useful during the Cuban missile crisis. It was the first aircraft to photograph the Soviet base being constructed in Cuba on October 14, 1962. That airplane was part of the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.

It continued useful operations during every operation and crisis since then, including Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Today, 29 U-2s are used in operational service as well as 5 2-seat training versions. NASA also operates 2 with the Dryden Flight Research Facility at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Another one of Kelly Johnson's amazing aircraft! :salute: Take a moment to honor the brave men who flew these machines that helped keep us safe for 50 years.
 

evangilder

"Shooter"
19,051
203
Sep 17, 2004
Moorpark, CA
www.vg-photo.com
I was always amazed to watch them take off and land. We had several occasions where they came in to our Transient Alert at Lakenheath.

The most amazing time I saw a TR-1 variant was on a Mayday call one night when we were working on ATC consoles. I heard the mayday call and stepped away to allow the controllers and SOF take control of the situation.

The pilot's suit was defective and the pilot was suffering from the bends. It is very painful and dangerous. Lakenheath had the chamber to treat him so they put him on a priority approach. Every manuever from the pilot caused excrutiatign pain that was very clear on each radio call.

While in extreme discomfort, he had to maintain complete concentration to land that airplane. Our TA guys and ramp and crash crews gathered on the runway in preparation for his arrival. The follow me truck was used to call the landing and provide chase. Despite the effects of the bends, the pilot managed to bring it in for a perfect landing and lost consciousness as he was being pulled from the cockpit. An amazing pilot who had a harrowing flight. He did recover, although I don't know if he returned to flying after the episode.
 

FLYBOYJ

"THE GREAT GAZOO"
Staff
Mod
28,097
8,668
Apr 9, 2005
Colorado, USA
10 years ago (on the U-2s 40th) I was invited to watch the last flight of NASA's U-2. They launched it and it set like 5 world records, climb to altitude, and climb to altitude with a payload. Some of the U-2s performance capabilities were kept secret for a number of years.
 

plan_D

Lieutenant Colonel
11,643
20
Apr 1, 2004
Great plane and a great story. Happy birthday to the U-2...


...they might fly high, but they still got bounced by Lightnings. :twisted:
 

HealzDevo

Staff Sergeant
1,358
22
Oct 26, 2004
Queensland
A great spy-plane, thought to be invincible to Soviet Air-Defences due to its height of flight- until Gary Powers got shot down over the USSR. Then came the SR-71 Blackbird. The U-2 is one of the largest single engine planes in the world. It also has a varient of the UR-2 and the TR-2 which I don't know too much about.
 

FLYBOYJ

"THE GREAT GAZOO"
Staff
Mod
28,097
8,668
Apr 9, 2005
Colorado, USA
HealzDevo said:
A great spy-plane, thought to be invincible to Soviet Air-Defences due to its height of flight- until Gary Powers got shot down over the USSR. Then came the SR-71 Blackbird. The U-2 is one of the largest single engine planes in the world. It also has a varient of the UR-2 and the TR-2 which I don't know too much about.

U-2R and TR-1 - Longer wings and fuselage, "Tactical Recon" carries different cameras and pods.
 

trackend

Chief Master Sergeant
3,962
21
Dec 20, 2003
Ipswich, Suffolk
Me too CC it definatley took some bottle to climb into one of those
having had a butchers around one at Duxford it looked a strange bird in its day very cutting edge stuff though.
Happy birthday 2U U2.
 

Users who are viewing this thread