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U-2 high altitude reconnaiaissance plane, high above the earth. My brother is a U-2 pilot.

The U-2 Spy Plane

 

Why does my website have a page about the U-2 spy plane?

Simple question. Simple answer: my brother, Jon Huggins was a pilot in the U. S. Air Force ... a U-2 pilot.

And now he is again.

At the time I originally prepared this page, he was in the NATO/Yugoslavia conflict. After that, he returned safely, returned to Yugoslavia and returned safely again. He then left the Air Force, moved into civilian life and became a jet pilot for United Airlines.

In December 2001, he responded again to our country's needs and reentered the Air Force as a major and a U-2 pilot.

In April 2002, he completed a tour overseas supporting the armed conflict in Iraq.

This page is for him.


The U-2 is a single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude, reconnaissance aircraft. Long, (very long: 103 feet) wide, straight wings give the U-2 glider-like characteristics. It can carry a variety of sensors and cameras.

The first flight was in August 1955. It was the U-2 that photographed the Soviet missile installations in Cuba in October 14, 1962.


From time to time, my travels took me out to California, to the San Francisco area. When they did, I'd try to go up to Sacramento to Beale Air Force Base to visit my brother.

I like it best when I could arrange the trip for a weekday. The U-2s, nicknamed the Dragon Ladies, fly on weekdays. And, when the U-2s fly, chase cars help them land. The U-2 is probably the most difficult plane to land in the entire U. S. military. It has one main landing gear, in the middle of the plane. It has to land exactly straight, like landing a bicycle. The chase cars help the pilot know how far off the runway the U-2 is.

Sometimes, if everything is just right, I get the VIP treatment, including a ride in a chase car. They run Camaros at Beale. You sit out on the runway, wait for the U-2 to fly over, then accelerate down the runway behind the U-2, chasing behind it as it lands. For me, its better than all the rides at Disneyland.


Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson, a (now famous) designer at Lockheed conceived of the U-2. The first U-2, designated a U-2A flew in 1955.

Production ended in 1968 with the model known as the U-2R. The U-2R was about 40% larger than the original U-2A.

In 1980 they restarted the production line and made more. They called these the TR-1 for NATO and the eR-2 for NASA. ("TR" stands for "Tactical Reconnaissance". "eR" stands for "earth Resource".)

In 1992 all the TR-1s were redesignated U-2R.

Now, the TR-1s and U-2Rs have all been "converted" into a new configuration called the U-2S. (The eR-2 has also been "converted" but they didn't change the "name".)  The conversion delivered the first U-2S in October 1994. The conversion involved new, high-efficiency General electric F118-Ge-101 engines, an improved electrical system, a digital autopilot, including improved GPS and an auxiliary spoiler activation system.

The three trainers (U-2RT) are being converted to U-2ST. The last one should be converted in 1999.


In addition to the U-2, the pilots fly the T-38, the companion trainer. There are only four dual-seat U-2 trainers. The rest are single seat. But the T-38 is a bit different from the U-2. The T-38 flies because it has big jets. The U-2 flies because it has big wings.


The Air Force U-2s operate through the Air Combat Command with a home base at the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base. The wing also has four "forward operating sites" worldwide.

NASA flies the eR-2 from their Dryden Flight Research Center at edwards AFB in California. NASA uses the eR-2s for a wide variety of earth resources-related programs.

The U-2 and eR-2 are also used by other "customers" including Federal emergency Management Agency (FeMA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Drug enforcement Agency (DEA), various universities and many others.


Typical sorties (flights) average about 9 hours above 70,000 feet. The pilot wears a full pressurized space suit, custom made for each pilot.


There aren't many pilots who fly the U-2. There are only about 100 worldwide. The application process discourages all but the most qualified from even applying. Of those who apply, less than 40% eventually become U-2 pilots.


Kelly's RulesKelly's Rules: The fourteen rules established by Kelly Johnson as principles for the operations of Skunk Works projects. 

U-2 GraphicsU-2 Graphics: Pictures of the U-2 plane. 


Airplane PostersAviation and Space: Links to some aviation and space posters, memorabilia, gifts and collectibles available for sale.
NB: This page is part of my affiliate participation that helps fund this site. If you would rather order products without crediting my affiliate account, I include a link for that as well. The link opens a new window.  


Air Combat CommandAir Combat Command: Want to sign up for the Air Combat Command News Service to receive news? This page tells you how.

Air Combat Command HistoryAir Combat Command History: History of the ACC, from the creation in the early 90's to now.

Air Combat Command News ServiceAir Combat Command News Service: Want to sign up for the Air Combat Command News Service to receive news? This page tells you how.

Air Combat Command Multimedia GalleryAir Combat Command Multimedia Gallery: An excellent source of images, clipart, videos and even desktop themes, on all aspects of the air combat command. Well organized, extensive and easy to use, this section of the website is fantastic.

Air Combat Command U-2 GraphicsAir Combat Command U-2 Graphics: Part of the Multimedia Gallery.

Air Force Aircraft Tail MarkingsAir Force Aircraft Tail Markings: How to read those tail markings. Also includes the two-letter base codes. BB is the base code for the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale, AFB. 

Air Force, CIA Celebrate U-2 Spy Plane History, But Problems LoomAir Force, CIA Celebrate U-2 Spy Plane History, But Problems Loom: David Atkinson writes this story, apparently referencing the 17.Sep.1998 conference about the U-2. In addition to noting the successes, he notes problems of staffing and trainer readiness. 

Air Force Link: Lockheed Martin Demonstrates New U-2 Cockpit Displays (02.Mar.2001)Air Force Link: Lockheed Martin Demonstrates New U-2 Cockpit Displays (02.Mar.2001):  Lockheed Martin's U-2 Reconnaissance Avionics Maintainability Program (RAMP) demonstrates a cockpit modernization upgrade. (Includes graphics and link to high resolution graphic.) [See also Lockheed Martin press release on this topic. Photos also available on my U-2 Graphic pages, above.] 

Air Force Link: First upgraded U-2 arrives at Beale (01.May.2002)Air Force Link: First upgraded U-2 arrives at Beale (01.May.2002): The first U-2S upgraded through the Reconnaissance Avionics Maintainability Program (RAMP) returned to Beale. The RAMP upgrade replaces the 1960s-vintage cockpit with equipment including three 6-by-8 inch multifunction displays, an up-front control and display unit, and an independent secondary flight display system. The entire fleet of 31 U-2S aircraft and four two-cockpit trainers will be modified by 2007. (Includes graphics and link to high resolution graphic.) [See also Lockheed Martin's press release and Aviation Week's stories on this topic. Air Force Link story includes best photos. Photos also available on my U-2 Graphic pages, above.] 

Air Force Link SearchAir Force Link Search: The Air Force search page. Go here and search for "U-2" to find current information on the Air Force sites.

Air Force News (23.Dec.1998), "U-2 Pilot Shatters World RecordAir Force News (23.Dec.1998) , "U-2 Pilot Shatters World Record: How a U-2 pilot shattered a 19-year old world record Dec. 12 when he flew his U-2 and payload to an altitude of more than 12 and a half miles above the earth's surface (something done routinely every day). 

Appeal-Democrat (29.Apr.2000), "Son Set to Fly Like His Father"Appeal-Democrat (29.Apr.2000) , "Son Set to Fly Like His Father":  This story by the Marysville Appeal-Democrat describes the preparations of Francis Gary Powers, Jr. for a flight U-2 on 01.May.2000 in a special ceremony at Beale AFB to honor his father.

Appeal-Democrat (02.May.2000), "Flight Brings Son Closer to Father"Appeal-Democrat (02.May.2000) , "Flight Brings Son Closer to Father": This story by the Marysville Appeal-Democrat describes the ceremony at Beale AFT on 01.May.2000 to honor Francis Gary Powers 40 years after his famous mission. Powers' son, Francis Gary Powers, Jr., attended the ceremony.

Avalon Project at Yale: The U-2 IncidentAvalon Project at Yale: The U-2 Incident: The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School collects and displays documents in law, history and diplomacy. This page has transcripts of some of the official communications regarding the Gary Powers U-2 incident.

Aviation Week's AviationNow.com (30.Apr.2002), "Better Cockpit, Avionics On Tap For Beale's U-2 Pilots"Aviation Week's AviationNow.com (30.Apr.2002) , "Better Cockpit, Avionics On Tap For Beale's U-2 Pilots": Reconnaissance Wing hope to start formal upgrade training next month in the newest version of the U-2S reconnaissance aircraft, which boasts a redesigned cockpit and better avionics. (Includes graphic.) [See also Lockheed Martin's press release and Air Force Link stories on this topic. Air Force Link story includes best photos. Photos also available on my U-2 Graphic pages, above.] 

Beale Air Force BaseBeale Air Force Base: Home page for my brother's Air Force base, and home to 9th Reconnaissance Wing and the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron. (Notice: This link used to be to www.beale.af.mil. Now that page includes links to a restricted military only site and a public site. The public site, linked here, appears to have been gutted and is currently a disappointing visit.)

Beale Air Force Base: 99th Recon. Squadron Home PageBeale Air Force Base: 99th Recon. Squadron Home Page: A great page and an excellent place to start. Lots of great U-2 pictures, information on the space suits and the program.   (Notice: This page is no longer accessible. It has either been removed or it has been relocated to the restricted military only site.)

Beale Air Force Base: Base FactsBeale Air Force Base: Base Facts: The history of Beale AFB. (Did you know it was named for a Naval Academy graduate who worked with camels in the Army?) 

Beale AFB Stan/Eval Home PageBeale AFB Stan/eval Home Page: Looks like Stanley and evelyn have an interest in U-2s as well. They have this site out at Beale that has some great info. Be sure to check out the Collier Trophy, the U-2 Aviation Records. Also, check out all the great abbreviations, acronyms and mil-speak: Form 847, MQF, FCIF, HHQ, SEB, RAMP, CWG . . . and that is just the opening page. If you explore just a little bit further you can learn about PVIDT, CDDD, MFD, UFCD, IFF and more. Joking aside, you can find all sorts of interesting info through this page. Check it out.    (Notice: This page is no longer accessible. It has either been removed or it has been relocated to the restricted military only site.)

Ben RichBen Rich: A small page about Ben Rich, the second head of the Skunk Works, after Kelly Johnson. Ben Rich wrote his memoirs, Skunk Works , (see below). 

Christian Science Monitor (12.Nov.1997), "U-2 Planes - Veterans at Peering Behind Enemy Lines"Christian Science Monitor (12.Nov.1997) , "U-2 Planes - Veterans at Peering Behind enemy Lines": Short article about the U-2. 

CIA and the U-2 ProgramCIA and the U-2 Program: The CIA's declassified internal history of the U-2 program. Written by Gregory W. Pedlow and Donald e. Welzenbach for the CIA History Staff in the 1980s, was published in 1992 under the title The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954 - 1974. This volume tells much of the U-2 story in a clear and engaging manner, providing a fuller context for understanding some of the most dangerous moments of the Cold War. 

CIA's Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-90CIA's Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-90: Using CIA records, this study traces CIA interest and involvement in the UFO controversy from the late 1940s to 1990. It includes a brief discussion of the role of the U-2 in such sightings. 

Clarence "Kelly" JohnsonClarence "Kelly" Johnson: A small page about Kelly Johnson, the founder of the Skunk Works. Includes some graphics of Kelly. 

The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962: Presenting the Photographic Evidence AbroadThe Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962: Presenting the Photographic evidence Abroad: This describes the experiences of Sherman Kent and other senior CIA officers in briefing the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Canada on the reasons behind US actions in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Of peripheral discussion to the U-2, it discuses the relationship between intelligence and policy, how briefings are done, who does them, why they are (or are not) important, as well as the credibility of sources. It was originally classified Secret and published by Studies in Intelligence in Spring 1972. 

Dragon Lady Meets the Challenge -  The U-2 in Desert StormDragon Lady Meets the Challenge -The U-2 in Desert Storm: By Coy F. Cross II, 9th Reconnaissance Wing. 

Edward Fitzgerald Bealeedward Fitzgerald Beale: A biography of the man for whom Beale AFB is named. 

Federation of American Scientists: Senior Year U-2 / TR-1Federation of American Scientists: Senior Year U-2 / TR-1: Part of the FAS Intelligence Resource Program, this extensive site is the source for much of the information and many of the graphics on my site. 

Fletcher Prouty Reference SiteFletcher Prouty Reference Site: This site features the work of Fletcher Prouty. He spent 9 of his 23 year military career in the Pentagon (1955-1964). In 1955 he was appointed the first "Focal Point" officer between the CIA and the Air Force for Clandestine Operations. In this capacity Col. Prouty would be at the nerve center of the Military-Industrial Complex at a time unequalled in American History. He has written on these subjects, about the JFK assassination, the Cold War period, and Vietnamese warfare, and the existence of a "Secret Team". He backs up his his work with seldom seen or mentioned official documents - some never before released.

Prouty Alleges Powers' Flight was SabotagedProuty Alleges Powers' Flight was Sabotaged: This is a copy of an email reply from Fletcher Prouty regarding Powers and the U-2, specifically Allen Dulles' testimony.

Prouty re Powers, U-2 and Allen DullesProuty re Powers, U-2 and Allen Dulles: This is a copy of an 01.Dec.1997 email reply from Fletcher Prouty regarding Powers and the U-2, specifically Allen Dulles' testimony.

Prouty EmailProuty email: More Prouty email, some of which regards the Powers U-2 incident.

Excerpt from Allen Dulles' Testimonyexcerpt from Allen Dulles' Testimony: This excerpt from Allen Dulles' testimony before the Senate indicates that Powers was not shot down. Note that the link to the full report no longer works. 

Francis Gary Powers: One Man, Two Countries and the Cold WarFrancis Gary Powers: One Man, Two Countries and the Cold War: A short article on the Military.com site about the Gary Powers U-2 incident. It also mentions the medals awarded posthumously on 01.May.2000 in a special ceremony at Beale AFB 

Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy IncidentFrancis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident: Information about the movie, based on the book Operation Overflight. Lee Majors played Gary Powers. 

Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy IncidentFrancis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident: The Internet Movie Database page about the movie. 

General de Gaulle In ActionGeneral de Gaulle In Action: This discussion of the May 1960 Four-Power Meeting in Paris includes some references to the U-2 and the downing of Francis Gary Powers and the role it played in that converence. 

John Stone's U-2 PageJohn Stone's U-2 Page: Wow! One of the very best U-2 sites on the web. Lots of great information. John also has excellent information about the SR-71. 

Lockheed Martin: Press Release: U-2S/ER-2 Aircraft Awarded NAA's 1998 Collier TrophyLockheed Martin: Press Release: U-2S/eR-2 Aircraft Awarded NAA's 1998 Collier Trophy (10.Feb.1998): The National Aeronautic Association awarded the Robert J. Collier Trophy recognizing the top aeronautical achievement in the United States for 1998 to the U-2S/eR-2. 

Lockheed Martin: Press Release: Lockheed Martin U-2 Demonstrates New Cockpit Displays (01.Mar.2001)Lockheed Martin: Press Release: Lockheed Martin U-2 Demonstrates New Cockpit Displays (01.Mar.2001): Lockheed Martin's U-2 Reconnaissance Avionics Maintainability Program (RAMP) demonstrates a cockpit modernization upgrade. (Includes graphic and link to 9 MB high-res TIF graphic.) [See also Air Force Link story on this topic. Photos also available on my U-2 Graphic pages, above.] 

Lockheed Martin: Press Release: Lockheed Martin Delivers First Upgraded U-2S Reconnaissance Aircraft (15.Apr.2002)Lockheed Martin: Press Release: Lockheed Martin Delivers First Upgraded U-2S Reconnaissance Aircraft (15.Apr.2002): Lockheed Martin delivered the first U-2S reconnaissance aircraft equipped with the new Reconnaissance Avionics Maintainability Program (RAMP) cockpit displays and controls. (Includes graphics; link to high-res graphic is "disabled".) [See also Air Force Link and Aviation Week's stories on this topic. Air Force Link story includes best photos. Photos also available on my U-2 Graphic pages, above.] 

Lockheed Martin SkunkworksLockheed Martin Skunkworks: Now this is Internet irony. The Skunkworks with a website!  Complete with a products and services page and employment opportunities. Great graphics and lots of excellent information. 

May-July 1960: The U-2 Airplane IncidentMay-July 1960: The U-2 Airplane Incident:  An extract from a government report that discusses the Gary Powers U-2 incident.

Mike's U-2 & SR-71 PageMike's U-2 & SR-71 Page: Mike was stationed at Beale from 1978 to 1982. This is his page. Mike is also the ringmaster for the SR-71 & U-2 Webring (see below). 

NASA's ER-2 Aircraft ProgramNASA's eR-2 Aircraft Program: Home page for the eR-2. 

Notional Ramp CockpitNotional Ramp Cockpit: One example of the kind of page you can find if you explore that great page from Stanley and evelyn (the prior link). This one shows a new (proposed?) U-2 cockpit.    (Notice: This page is no longer accessible. It has either been removed or it has been relocated to the restricted military only site.)

Popular Mechanics (Sep.1999), "Skunk Works Magic"Popular Mechanics (Sep.1999) , "Skunk Works Magic": How a handful of men broke the rules and created the world's most amazing high-tech weaponry. 

Powers to Posthumously Receive POW MedalPowers to Posthumously Receive POW Medal: The press release from the Cold War Museum announcing that Francis Gary Powers will posthumously receive medals at a special ceremony 01.May.2000 at Beale AFB. Powers' family accepted a Distinguished Flying Cross, Department of Defense Prisoner of War Medal and National Defense Service Medal on his behalf. The press release also notes that declassified debriefing transcripts clear up the confusion and speculation about what caused the U-2 incident. 

The Skunk WorksThe Skunk Works: A one page overview of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. 

The Summit Conference of 1960: An Intelligence Officer's ViewThe Summit Conference of 1960: An Intelligence Officer's View: Sherman Kent's account of how Khrushchev torpedoed the 1960 Paris Summit Conference. Includes some discussion of the U-2. This publication was originally classified Secret and published in a 1972 special edition of Studies in Intelligence.

Time (22.Dec.1997), "Different Fate for the U-2"Time (22.Dec.1997) , "Different Fate for the U-2": Letter by Stephen I. Schwartz, Director, U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project, Foreign Policy Studies, explaining that the Power U-2 was not shot down.
(on the Brookings Institution site) 

The U-2: A Revolution in IntelligenceThe U-2: A Revolution in Intelligence: CIA press release about the 17.Sep.1998 conference on the U-2. 

The U-2: A Revolution in IntelligenceThe U-2: A Revolution in Intelligence: Article in the Spring 1999 issue of the Center for the Study of Intelligence Bulletin about the 17.Sep.1998 conference on the U-2. 

The U-2: A Revolution in IntelligenceThe U-2: A Revolution in Intelligence: Program for the 17.Sep.1998 conference on the U-2. 

The U-2: Development and ShootdownThe U-2: Development and Shootdown: A bibliography of information (most of it not on the internet) related to the U-2. More for the serious researcher than the hobbiest. 

Preface to the BibliographyPreface to the Bibliography: explains how the bibliography has been constructed. 

U-2 Information PageU-2 Information Page: A single page summary of the U-2. Includes a few pictures. 

U-2 Program: A Russian Officer RemembersU-2 Program: A Russian Officer Remembers: This article on the CIA website was excerpted from a longer study written by retired Soviet Colonel Alexander Orlov. He spent most of his 46-year military career with the former USSR's Air Defense Forces and personally participated in many of the U-2 events described. 

The U-2 Program: The DCI's PerspectiveThe U-2 Program: The DCI's Perspective: Opening remarks by George J. Tenet for the 17.Sep.1998 conference: "The U-2: A Revolution in Intelligence".

The U-2 Program: The DCI's PerspectiveThe U-2 Program: The DCI's Perspective: Another presentation of the same remarks.

U. S. Air Force A-10/OA-10 Thunderbolt II Fact SheetU. S. Air Force A-10/OA-10 Thunderbolt II Fact Sheet: So what does the A-10 have to do with the U-2. Nothing. Except that my brother introduced me to the A-10 and I think it's kinda cool. 

U. S. Air Force B-2 Spirit Fact SheetU. S. Air Force B-2 Spirit Fact Sheet: See the F-117A fact sheet above. 

U. S. Air Force F-117A Nighthawk Fact SheetU. S. Air Force F-117A Nighthawk Fact Sheet: So what does the F-117A have to do with the U-2. See, it's like this. I could tell you, but then . . . . Well, you know. 

U. S. Air Force T-38 Fact SheetU. S. Air Force T-38 Fact Sheet: Official information on the T-38. Hmmm. No mention of the U-2. Just a small reference to Air Combat Command. 

U. S. Air Force U-2S Fact SheetU. S. Air Force U-2S Fact Sheet: Official information on the U-2S. Yep. There it is. "Ceiling: Above 70,000 feet (21,212 meters)". 

U. S. Air Force U-2R/U-2S Fact SheetU. S. Air Force U-2R/U-2S Fact Sheet: Prior fact sheet with official information on the U-2R and U-2S.   NB: This link used to go to www.af.mil/news/factsheets/U_2R_U_2S.html but it appears that the Air Force has made that page unavailable. It shows "Forbidden". Fortunately, the Internet Archive Wayback Machine has archived the page so I can link to the copy there.


Beale AFB - Non-U-2

This section contains peripheral information and news about Beale AFB that is not related to the U-2 program. See also above for other information about Beale, its history, who it is named for, etc.

Air Combat Command News Service: Beale People Make 9-11 Quilt (07.Jun.2002)Air Combat Command News Service: Beale People Make 9-11 Quilt (07.Jun.2002) 

Air Force Link: Air Force picks preferred site for Global Hawk (19.Jan.2001)Air Force Link: Air Force picks preferred site for Global Hawk (19.Jan.2001): The Air Force announced Beale Air Force Base, Calif., as its preferred location for the first main operating base of the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle. 


Books

Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident

Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident (paperback): In March, 2002, Amazon.com showed that the paperback edition of this book was due to be published in December, 2001. In May, 2002, Amazon has revised the date to August 2002. Looks a bit delayed. But the hardback version, from June 1970 is sometimes available (see below). 

Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 IncidentOperation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident (hardback):  The hardback edition of this book, published in June, 1970, is sometimes available in used editions. 

 

Kelly: More Than My Share of It All

Kelly: More Than My Share of It All: This is Kelly Johnson's definitive account of his own life. Unfortunately, this book does not contain the detailed technical information on the various aircraft he designed. This book was written before much of the material was declassified in the last few years. And, the book is too small. But, then, the public probably doesn't want to read the three-volume, 1000 page book it would take to do the job. 

 

Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works

Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works: This edition has been updated and revised with the total cooperation of Lockheed's Advanced Development Company. It strives to be a history of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works aircraft design and production facility. The book includes excerpts from "logs" kept by Clarence. L "Kelly" Johnson, the founder and former director of the Skunk Works. It provides the official histories of the U-2, A-12, D-21, SR-71, F-117, P-80, RB-69, Saturn, Constitution, T-33, F-94, XF-90, X-7, and more. It includes Production quantities, serial numbers and Lockheed build numbers. 

 

Dragon Lady: The History of the U-2 Spyplane

Dragon Lady: The History of the U-2 Spyplane: Out of print, this 1989 book is only available used. 

 

Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed

Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed: Ben R. Rich was the second executive to head the Lockheed Skunk Works. This volume includes tales of Kelly Johnson, the founder and his predecessor. The writing is assisted by Leo Janos, co-author of Chuck Yeager's 1985 autobiography. 

 

Dark Eagles

Dark eagles: This book presents a history of the U.S. Effort to develop secret aircraft, also called "black aircraft". The history begins with the first American jet, the World War II Bell P-59 and continues through the U-2, SR-71 Blackbird, and the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter. It also discuses the issues surrounding the secrecy. 

 

Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed

Me and U-2: My Affair with Dragon Lady: Glenn Chapman worked as a nephographics specialist on the U-2 with the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Laughlin AFB, Texas and Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ from 1958 to 1966. Part 1 discusses military intelligence in general, how it began and how far it has come and describes how the U-2 came to be in the first place. Part 2 describes the author's experiences with the U-2 during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis from his vantage point. He took part in the OL-X detachment at McCoy AFB, Florida during that "thirteen days of madness." Part 3 is full of stories about the U-2, some of the people the author knew at the time, and a little about the relationship between the SR-71 and U-2. It is the first book written directly by, rather than an "as told to" version, someone involved with the program. It is also the first book written by an enlisted man from the enlisted man's point of view. 

 

Rush to Destiny

Rush to Destiny: Not actually about the Air Force nor about aviation, this is a biographical novel about edward Fitzgerald Beale, after whom Beale AFB is named. He was a naval hero, soldier and adventurer. He went to sea at 15, and eventually herded camels from Texas to California. This novel is based on his early life and is very, very accurate and true to Beale's life. Once out of print, it is now available again. 

 


 

U-2 over Beald Air Force Base, California

 

A U2 flies over Beale Air Force Base. I was fortunate enough to chase U2s down the runway here and also to fly a small training plane (not a U2) out of Beale.

 


SR-71 & U-2 Webring Controls

 


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