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U-2 Dragonlady info

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I'm at ASBC, and one of the requirements is a presentation. I have decided to do mine on a comparison between capabilities of the U-2 and the RQ-4. This thread has been a gold mine for articles comparing the two. I was wondering if any of the pilots (or anyone else, for that matter) on here have access to any material not already posted on the thread that would be useful in my research. Thanks!

Yes, I'll grab some of the classified stuff from the vault and post it next week.

As for RQ-4, look up the phrase "Nunn-McCurdy Breach". Of course, that phrase got me in a bit of trouble,... didn't it Spoo?

For your paper, just remember that the U-2 is the best. And the RQ-4 is not really "unmanned".

Edited by Huggyu2

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Huggy, thanks for the search suggestion. I did not expect anyone to post classified material or breach op-sec in any way. I just wanted to know if there were any other good (public domain) resources I do not already know about.

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Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far, away, I was in a pressure suit, four hours from home, and was attacked be a virus. Threw up in my helmet, pooped in my suit, and got the bends bad. Aborted and few home with vomit sloshing around my face, spent the night in the hospital all blue from burst capilaries (but luckily no CNS problems). I can understand the guys plight! It isn't any fun!

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Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far, away, I was in a pressure suit, four hours from home, and was attacked be a virus. Threw up in my helmet, pooped in my suit, and got the bends bad. Aborted and few home with vomit sloshing around my face, spent the night in the hospital all blue from burst capilaries (but luckily no CNS problems). I can understand the guys plight! It isn't any fun!

Card carrying member of the Strato-shitters club, eh? I got close once, but it ended up being a giant fart...sort of.

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Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far, away, I was in a pressure suit, four hours from home, and was attacked be a virus. Threw up in my helmet, pooped in my suit, and got the bends bad. Aborted and few home with vomit sloshing around my face, spent the night in the hospital all blue from burst capilaries (but luckily no CNS problems). I can understand the guys plight! It isn't any fun!

Word. :salut:

...sudden and uncharacteristic respect for a person shitting himself...

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Hi Flyer

After that happened, did they keep the pressure suit?

I read a similar story about an SR-71 pilot who had diarrhoea at the start of an operational mission. He shat himself but chose to press on because of the importance of getting the mission 'take'. When he landed some 9 hours later, the acid in the faeces had burned him. I am pretty sure the story is in one of the SR books by either Brian Schul or Rich Graham.

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Steve,

They will keep the suit, but have to replace the liner. Depending on how solid it was (or wasn't), it can do even more damage. The number floating around in PSD for a strato-shit event is about $20,000 these days.

If it's pretty solid and the underwear contains all of it, I don't believe they change that liner.

Spoo,... "sort of"??

It's really not so bad, though... just imagine sitting down on a warm pumpkin pie.

Edited by Huggyu2

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Spoo,... "sort of"??

I believe it would qualify as a "Shart".

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Hi Flyer

After that happened, did they keep the pressure suit?

I read a similar story about an SR-71 pilot who had diarrhoea at the start of an operational mission. He shat himself but chose to press on because of the importance of getting the mission 'take'. When he landed some 9 hours later, the acid in the faeces had burned him. I am pretty sure the story is in one of the SR books by either Brian Schul or Rich Graham.

Yeh...mine was even worse. Not only did I have the worst case of diaper rash in history, but my neck and cheeks were pretty raw from being covered in vomit for hours. Like the SR case, I wasn't about to bag the mission...I was four hours from home and my rear was going to get eaten away anyway, so I flew out the track before returning. It was a mission opportunity we didn't get too often and I wasn't going to abort...I'd already crapped in my suit, quitting wasn't going to help any. Of course, I didn't realize the bends would get so bad...I adjusted the suit pressure (the pressure inside the full pressure suit is adjustable) to give me about two PSI above the cockpit pressure so I thought I'd be okay. The vomiting came a little later in the sequence. Not the kind of flight experience I'd want to repeat. They tossed the liner and the helmet. Probably more than $20,000 for that flight!!

Edited by HiFlyer

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Nope. You eat what you want. You're an adult, and you should know what your body deals with.

I know it's shocking, but this is one area the USAF has not regulated yet.

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Is there any foods that you guys are not allowed to eat because of the altitude?

I don't believe there's an official list (didn't used to be), but common sense should tell you to stay away from certain types of foods...spicy and gassy foods, especially. In some respect its an individual tolerance thing. Before flight you try to go low carb, high protein, moderate quantity...low carb usually means low bulk), and I was careful the day before a high flight to some extent also. Most of the problems I know of were ultimately traced back to one of three things: actual food poisening, eating something unusual that your system wasn't familier with, or serious stupidity. The problem was that sometimes when you're deployed to strange places, the first two become common and the third isn't all that unusual. However, if you get burned once, you start getting very careful about your eating habits!

By the way, this subject leads to colorful stories, but it really doesn't happen all that often. The guys are usually pretty careful.

Edited by HiFlyer

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From the NY Times Business Section...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/business/22plane.html?pagewanted=1&sq=%20aircraft&st=nyt&scp=5

"Over beers at the clubhouse"?!? WTF?

U-2 Spy Plane Evades the Day of Retirement

By CHRISTOPHER DREW

The U-2 spy plane, the high-flying aircraft that was often at the heart of cold war suspense, is enjoying an encore.

Four years ago, the Pentagon was ready to start retiring the plane, which took its first test flight in 1955. But Congress blocked that, saying the plane was still useful.

And so it is. Because of updates in the use of its powerful sensors, it has become the most sought-after spy craft in a very different war in Afghanistan.

As it shifts from hunting for nuclear missiles to detecting roadside bombs, it is outshining even the unmanned drones in gathering a rich array of intelligence used to fight the Taliban.

All this is a remarkable change from the U-2’s early days as a player in United States-Soviet espionage. Built to find Soviet missiles, it became famous when Francis Gary Powers was shot down in one while streaking across the Soviet Union in 1960, and again when another U-2 took the photographs that set off the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Newer versions of the plane have gathered intelligence in every war since then and still monitor countries like North Korea.

Now the U-2 and its pilots, once isolated in their spacesuits at 70,000 feet, are in direct radio contact with the troops in Afghanistan. And instead of following a rote path, they are now shifted frequently in midflight to scout roads for convoys and aid soldiers in firefights.

In some ways, the U-2, which flew its first mission in 1956, is like an updated version of an Etch A Sketch in an era of high-tech computer games.

“It’s like after all the years it’s flown, the U-2 is in its prime again,” said Lt. Col. Jason M. Brown, who commands an intelligence squadron that plans the missions and analyzes much of the data. “It can do things that nothing else can do.”

One of those things, improbably enough, is that even from 13 miles up its sensors can detect small disturbances in the dirt, providing a new way to find makeshift mines that kill many soldiers.

In the weeks leading up to the recent offensive in Marja, military officials said, several of the 32 remaining U-2s found nearly 150 possible mines in roads and helicopter landing areas, enabling the Marines to blow them up before approaching the town.

Marine officers say they relied on photographs from the U-2’s old film cameras, which take panoramic images at such a high resolution they can see insurgent footpaths, while the U-2’s newer digital cameras beamed back frequent updates on 25 spots where the Marines thought they could be vulnerable.

In addition, the U-2’s altitude, once a defense against antiaircraft missiles, enables it to scoop up signals from insurgent phone conversations that mountains would otherwise block.

As a result, Colonel Brown said, the U-2 is often able to collect information that suggests where to send the Predator and Reaper drones, which take video and also fire missiles. He said the most reliable intelligence comes when the U-2s and the drones are all concentrated over the same area, as is increasingly the case.

The U-2, a black jet with long, narrow wings to help it slip through the thin air, cuts an impressive figure as it rises rapidly into the sky. It flies at twice the height of a commercial jet, affording pilots views of such things as the earth’s curvature.

But the plane, nicknamed the Dragon Lady, is difficult to fly, and missions are grueling and dangerous. The U-2s used in Afghanistan and Iraq commute each day from a base near the Persian Gulf, and the trip can last nine to 12 hours. Pilots eat meals squeezed through tubes and wear spacesuits because their blood would literally boil if they had to eject unprotected at such a high altitude.

As the number of flights increases, some of the plane’s 60 pilots have suffered from the same disorienting illness, known as the bends, that afflicts deep-sea divers who ascend too quickly.

Relaxing recently in their clubhouse at Beale Air Force Base near Sacramento, Calif., the U-2’s home base, several pilots said the most common problems are sharp joint pain or a temporary fogginess.

But in 2006, a U-2 pilot almost crashed after drifting in and out of consciousness during a flight over Afghanistan. The pilot, Kevin Henry, now a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, said in an interview that he felt as if he were drunk, and he suffered some brain damage. At one point, he said, he came within five feet of smashing into the ground before miraculously finding a runway.

As a safety measure, U-2 pilots start breathing pure oxygen an hour before takeoff to reduce the nitrogen in their bodies and cut the risk of decompression sickness. Mr. Henry, who now instructs pilots on safety, thinks problems with his helmet seal kept him from breathing enough pure oxygen before his flight.

Lt. Col. Kelly N. West, the chief of aerospace medicine at Beale, said one other pilot had also been disqualified from flying the U-2. Since 2002, six pilots have transferred out on their own after suffering decompression illnesses.

Still, most of the pilots remain undeterred, and the Air Force is taking more precautions. Holding an oxygen mask to his nose, one pilot, Maj. Eric M. Shontz, hopped on an elliptical machine for 10 minutes before a practice flight at Beale to help dispel the nitrogen faster. Several assistants then made sure he stayed connected to an oxygen machine as they sealed his spacesuit and drove him to the plane.

Major Shontz and other U-2 pilots say the planes gradually became more integrated in the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But since the flights over Afghanistan began to surge in early 2009, the U-2s have become a much more fluid part of the daily battle plan.

Major Shontz said he was on the radio late last year with an officer as a rocket-propelled grenade exploded. “You could hear his voice talking faster and faster, and he’s telling me that he needs air support,” Major Shontz recalled. He said that a minute after he relayed the message, an A-10 gunship was sent to help.

Brig. Gen. H.D. Polumbo Jr., a top policy official with the Air Force, said recent decisions to give intelligence analysts more flexibility in figuring out how to use the U-2 each day had added to its revival.

Over beers at the clubhouse, decorated with scrolls honoring the heroes of their small fraternity, other U-2 pilots say they know their aircraft’s reprieve will last only so long.

And the U-2’s replacement sits right across the base — the Global Hawk, a remote-controlled drone that flies almost as high as the U-2 and typically stays aloft for 24 hours or more. The first few Global Hawks have been taking intelligence photos in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But a larger model that could also intercept communications has been delayed, and the Air Force is studying how to add sensors that can detect roadside bombs to other planes. So officials say it will most likely be 2013 at the earliest before the U-2 is phased into retirement.

“We’ve needed to be nimble to stay relevant,” said Doug P. McMahon, a major who has flown the U-2 for three years. “But eventually it’s bound to end.”

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If this is you Huggy how was it flying in formation with a Cessna 180?

It was a blast! Thanks for posting this... I hadn't seen it.

We spent about 25 minutes in formation with Bruce and Jim, and just holding position while level was fairly physical. I found myself tense on the controls, which after all the hours of formation I've flown, was kind of humorous. Overall, it was very different and a magnitude more difficult than flying formation in a T-38.

They also shot some video, which I have.

BTW, the pilot in the backseat is Kuma, another regular on this site.

Edited by Huggyu2

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Chalk nose art from the last "deployment"...

NoseArt1.jpg

NoseArt2.jpg

NoseArt3.jpg

  • Upvote 1

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Chalk nose art from the last "deployment"...

Rosie Roads?

Which reminds me: Any of you guys been around long enough to remember the hog that landed gear up down there in the late '90s? One of your guys got a couple extra hours added onto an already long day and a bonus night landing while waiting for the Navy guys to figure out how to sling a gear-up A-10 off the runway.

If I remember right, I believe we delivered a keg or reasonable facsimile as a peace offering after that cluster ######. If anyone remembers it, it'd be interesting to hear the story from the other side.

Edited by 60 driver

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I remember it. One of the U-2 pilots, Greg Dotter (who is a contract IFS pilot at Pueblo now), was driving the chase car. We had just got a new style radio. The old style were like what you'd find in a T-38A: a wafer switch to immediately go to Guard.

He sees #3 of the three ship roll out on final... and no gear. Being that we operate on a U-2 discrete freq, he tries to rechannelize the radio to Guard... which is not a quick step... to send the guy around. No luck. Before he can get it switched over, the Hog bellies in.

Had we had the "old style" radio, this would not have occured.

What happened to the pilot?

Edited by Huggyu2

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I remember it. One of the U-2 pilots, Greg Dotter (who is a contract IFS pilot at Pueblo now), was driving the chase car. We had just got a new style radio. The old style were like what you'd find in a T-38A: a wafer switch to immediately go to Guard.

He sees #3 of the three ship roll out on final... and no gear. Being that we operate on a U-2 discrete freq, he tries to rechannelize the radio to Guard... which is not a quick step... to send the guy around. No luck. Before he can get it switched over, the Hog bellies in.

Had we had the "old style" radio, this would not have occured.

What happened to the pilot?

I think I remember hearing the chase car radio story, now that you mention it.

The pilot was young in the jet, a normally solid guy that got distracted during the wrong ten seconds and ended up having a real bad day. Fortunately our commander at the time was an old school Robin Olds type who saw the situation for what it was and went to bat for our boy. I can't remember the specifics, but I recall he had to brief the wing safety standup, flew with an instructor for awhile, and got a bonus checkride out of the deal, as well as a new callsign. It didn't ultimately hurt him that bad, I don't remember that it even slowed down his upgrade progression. It probably helped his case that other than not getting the god damn gear down, it was actually a pretty good landing - the two TGM-65s under the wings got written off, but the only actual damage to the aircraft was to the bottom end caps of the vertical tails. We replaced those and flew the airplane home 3 or 4 days later.

How long did your guy end up being airborne? He flew over the Rosie VOQ on final well after dark, and he got a big cheer from a bunch of half shitfaced hog guys out on the balcony there. How big a deal is it to land that thing at night?

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..., and he got a big cheer from a bunch of half shitfaced hog guys out on the balcony there. How big a deal is it to land that thing at night?

Ha! He'd have appreciated it had he known.

Not a big deal at night.

I don't know how much longer it stretched the sortie out.

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Update:

Due to pm's, emails, and phone calls I've received, it seems the word has not gotten out that the U-2 is good until 2015. I have heard (not confirmed) that it is in the 2016 FYDP.

As we've seen since 2005, expect these dates to move to the right.

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