US Wings and the U2 Spy-plane

Several years ago, our friend, a Lt. Colonel  in the Air Force sent us pictures of his U2 flying over the Mideast. Prominently featured in the cockpit is the US Wings logo.


The U2 was originally conceived by the CIA.  In 1956, the Air Force was so enamored by the U2 that it bought 31 aircraft from the CIA.

The design that gives the U-2 its remarkable performance also makes it a difficult aircraft to fly. It was designed and manufactured for minimum airframe weight, which results in an aircraft with little margin for error.   High aspect ratio wings give the U-2 some glider-like characteristics.   Most of thee time on a typical mission the U-2 was flying less than five knots above stall speed. A stall would cause a loss of altitude, possibly leading to detection and overstress of the airframe.

The U-2’s flight controls are designed for high-altitude flight requiring light control inputs at operational altitude. However, at lower altitudes, the higher air density and lack of a power assisted control system makes the aircraft very difficult to fly. Control inputs must be extreme to achieve the desired response, and a great deal of physical strength is needed to operate the controls in this manner. The U-2 is very sensitive to crosswinds, which, together with its tendency to float over the runway, makes the aircraft notoriously difficult to land. As it approaches the runway, the cushion of air provided by the high-lift wings in ground effect is so pronounced that the U-2 will not land unless the wing is fully stalled. A landing U-2 is accompanied on the ground by a chase car and an assisting U-2 pilot calling off the angles and decreasing aircraft height as the aircraft descends. Chase cars have included Ford Mustangs, Camaro’s GTO’s and Dodge Chargers.

TOP OF THE WORLD 6 This is our friend in front of his Dragon Lady in a hangar somewhere in the middle east.

TOP OF THE WORLD 5 We were honored to have the Colonel visit us at US Wings in Hudson Ohio.