Breathtaking Ride On The Lockheed U-2 Spy Plane At 70,000 Feet
October 21, 2010: Steven John Hibbs / The Tonka Report (TTR) – October 21, 2010
This is an absolutely breathtaking video taken aboard a Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft by James May of Top Gear at 70,000 feet.
But first, a brief history of the U-2 is in order to help put the historical significance of the technology in perspective to fully understand…
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.
Development: In the early 1950s, with Cold War tensions on the rise, the U.S. military required better strategic reconnaissance to help determine Soviet capabilities and intentions. The existing surveillance aircraft were primarily bombers converted for reconnaissance duty, vulnerable to anti-aircraft artillery, missiles, and fighters. It was thought an aircraft that could fly at 70,000 feet (21,000 m) would be beyond the reach of Soviet fighters, missiles, and even radar. This would allow “overflights”—knowingly violating a country’s airspace—to take aerial photographs.
Under the code name “AQUATONE”, the Air Force gave contracts to Bell Aircraft, Martin Aircraft, and Fairchild Engine and Airplane to develop proposals for the new reconnaissance aircraft. Officials at Lockheed Aircraft Corporation heard about the project and asked aeronautical engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson to come up with a design. Johnson was a brilliant designer, responsible for the P-38 Lightning, and the P-80. He was also known for completing projects ahead of schedule, working in a separate division of the company jokingly called the Skunk Works.
Johnson’s design, called the CL-282, married long glider-like wings to the fuselage of another of his designs, the F-104 Starfighter. To save weight, his initial design didn’t even have conventional landing gear, taking off from a dolly and landing on skids. The design was rejected by the Air Force, but caught the attention of several civilians on the review panel, notably Edwin Land, the father of instant photography. Land proposed to CIA director Allen Dulles that his agency should fund and operate this aircraft. After a meeting with President Eisenhower, Lockheed received a $22.5 million contract for the first 20 aircraft. It was renamed the U-2, with the “U” referring to the deliberately vague designation “utility”.
The first flight occurred at the Groom Lake test site (Area 51) on 1 August 1955, during what was only intended to be a high-speed taxi run. The sailplane-like wings were so efficient that the aircraft jumped into the air at 70 knots (130 km/h).
James Baker developed the optics for a large-format camera to be used in the U-2 while working for Perkin-Elmer. These new cameras had a resolution of 2.5 feet (76 cm) from an altitude of 60,000 feet (18,000 m). Balancing is so critical on the U-2 that the camera had to use a split film, with reels on one side feeding forward while those on the other side feed backward, thus maintaining a balanced weight distribution through the whole flight.
When the first overflights of the Soviet Union were tracked by radar, the CIA initiated Project RAINBOW to reduce the U-2’s radar cross section. This effort ultimately proved unsuccessful, and work began on a follow-on aircraft, which resulted in the Lockheed A-12 Blackbird [image above]. Manufacturing was restarted in the 1980s to produce TR-1/U-2R aircraft.
Read more at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_U-2
James May From Top Gear Rides In A U-2 Spy Plane
The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: The U.S. had this technology in 1955 – 55 years ago! Can anyone imagine what has been developed since 1955 that has been deliberately hidden from the American people? Also, notice at 3:03 of the video, they nonchalantly spot an aircraft spraying a chemtrail over 4 miles below them… – SJH
Link to original article below…