A U.S. Air Force pilot, who goes by the persona of Extreme Ross on social media, has posted rare footage — first spotted by The Drive — of several U-2 espionage aircraft landings.
The aircraft, which is capable of flying at altitudes of up to 13.25 miles (approx. 21 km), uses temporary "pogo wheels" that assist for take-off.
As these stay on the ground after take-off, pilots have to rely on a shockingly precarious two-wheel configuration when it comes to landing the spy plane.
When it comes to landing, the aircraft's massive glider-like wings also contribute to a powerful ground effect that does its best to keep the plane off the ground.
Rare U-2 landing montage
A U-2 pilot, Ross Franquemont, also known as Extreme Ross on social media, posted this incredible montage of several videos captured from a vehicle just behind the U-2 aircraft as it lands, as well as informative captions.
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In his video caption, Extreme Ross describes the memorable, yet terrifying experience of the first take-off and landing on a U-2, as well as the physical endurance needed to fly one of the Dragon Ladies.
"I think I can speak for every U-2 pilot when I say that the experience of the first takeoff on AF-1, which is flown by the instructor, is one of the most memorable experiences in your life. Shortly after that is the terror of the first landing. It's just as terrifying for the instructor (been there)," Extreme Ross explains.
"No matter how many hours of flying you have, you have never experienced anything like the Dragon Lady. The primary instructor spends AF-1 and 2 pushing the student to pick up the landings. Each flight tests mental and physical endurance (just physically flying almost 50 touch and goes is demanding). On AF-3, the primary and mobile instructor switch seats and see what the student has learned."
The video is part of a two-part upload detailing how exactly someone becomes a U-2 pilot. It's well worth having a look at Extreme Ross's page for the images along, though budding pilots will also gain a wealth of knowledge from his Instagram page.
As Extreme Ross says in his video posts description, those first U-2 training flights "aren't pretty," but they still give their pilots a vantage point over the world like no over.