In a BBC special entitled, "James May on the Moon", James May from Top Gear U.K. is taken on an emotional ride to the edge of space in a U-2 spy plane. The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency. It provides day and night, very high-altitude (70,000 feet / 21,000 meters), all-weather surveillance. The aircraft is also used for electronic sensor research and development, satellite calibration, and satellite data validation.
|35 U-2 spy planes remain active|
The book was introduced in May 2008 at the last reunion of the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing veterans and their families and has continued to be a successful recollection of history-making events during the Cold War era, including the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Here's an excerpt: "In 1951, modified bombers began overflights of the Soviet Union, and a number of border flights were shot down. At that time, the planners imagined a high altitude aircraft hard to detect and impossible to shoot down.
Flying the aircraft was not for the faint of heart; in fact, it was considered one of the most challenging aircraft in the inventory to fly and required a high degree of skill and ability from its pilots. The difficulty experienced by seasoned pilots who flew the U-2 resulted in it being nicknamed "Dragon Lady" meaning the aircraft was extremely unforgiving. Dragon Lady pilots were the first to fly and cruise above 70,000 feet; they were the first to fly with a pressure suit; and they were the first to gather intelligence information in many of the world's hot spots.
So, what do the finest pilots eat while flying missions that last 12 hours or more? Sgt. Suzzett Stalesky—an airspace physiologist and U-2 launch and recovery technician— says they eat "tube food". According to Stalesky, most pilots eat about a tube per hour and really have to watch out their food intake because they are not allowed to defecate in the suit. Their favorite tubed food: caffeinated chocolate pudding, which gives them a little kick while they are in the aircraft, and chicken a la king.
Other foods include peaches, hash browns with bacon, cinnamon applesauce, and key lime pie. Stalesky says that they have a chef creating new stuff and, once the pilots give the OK, they will start putting them in production.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the online Spy series "Corey Pearson, CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean." The views expressed on this site do not represent those of any organization he is a member of. Contact him on the Secure Contact Form