Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The U-2:

The Zoomies keep wanting to replace it, but it seems clear that after sixty years of operational use, the best replacement for a U-2 is another U-2.


Deadstick said...

Didn't know they use a chase car on takeoffs, too.

I remember the sophomore math class at Georgia Tech where I heard about The Incident. A guy came in and announced that the Russians had shot down a U-2; I and several other AFROTC cadets had an oh-shit reaction. The airplane's existence was not totally secret -- a picture of it had appeared in Model Airplane News earlier the same year -- but it was supposedly for "research".

But our instructor, Capt.Pendley, had encountered one in flight in Germany and told us what they were really for (which means he didn't have program access, and just figured it out).

Old NFO said...

Yep, we had a couple at NAS Moffett, owned by Ames Research (NASA). They were cleared unrestricted climb immediately on takeoff, and cleared the SFO approach which was off the end of 09 with NO problem at all! :-)

dinthebeast said...

Don't they have bicycle landing gear or something? I saw that in a Juan Browne video and didn't quite understand it.

-Doug in Oakland

Seth lePod said...

Full disclosure: I know nothing about piloting -- the only thing I've flown is an ornithopter, which my Siamese went three feet into the air to pull down. But wow, does Wikipedia ever make the U-2 sound like sound like a touchy one:

"To maintain their operational ceiling of 70,000 feet (21,000 m), the early U-2A and U-2C models had to fly very near their never-exceed speed (Vne). The margin between that maximum speed and the stall speed at that altitude was only 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h). This narrow window is called the "coffin corner", because breaching either limit would likely cause airflow separation at the wings or tail. For most of the 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; the controls require 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. In practice, once the aircraft has descended to an altitude of 2 feet (61 cm) above the tarmac the the pilot initiates a stall and the aircraft falls from this height. Chase cars and live calling of aircraft altitude are necessary because the landing gear is not designed to absorb the weight of the aircraft when falling from altitudes much above 2 feet."

Deadstick said...

Doug, yes, the main gear is bicycle style. There are small outrigger wheels on the wings that are used only for takeoff: they fall off when the airplane leaves the ground. There are skids on the wingtips that protect them when it comes to a stop on landing, and then one wing is lifted onto a pickup truck to taxi in.

On the approach, the pilot has to pump some fuel from one wing to the other to balance the airplane as accurately as possible, to avoid digging in a wingtip.

Brad_in_IL said...

@Deadstick . . .
Greetings from a fellow Yellow Jacket, class of 1987 !!!
- Brad