This awesome video shows several U-2 crash landings (proving how difficult landing a Dragon Lady may be)

Jun 14 2013 - 9 Comments

The U-2 Dragon Lady is probably one the most difficult plane to land in the world.

U-2 crash landing

That’s why, U-2 spyplanes need chase automobiles to supervise take offs, landings (and touch and gos).

Such sport cars are driven by highly trained pilot who act as ground-based wingmen for pilots flying aircraft whose size is such that the pilot’s view is obstructed by the airframe or part of it, and there’s a significant risk of hitting any ground obstacle with a wingtip.

Both manned and unmanned planes rely on chase cars, 20 of those are located across the globe.

Anyway, watch the video, showing several crash landings or overruns!

H/T to Tony Lovelock for the heads-up

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  • R McK

    I remember watching this video in a briefing during a visit to a U2 squadron. My Air Cadet group got to watch the pilot get kitted up, look around the cockpit, watch him climb in and taxi off, and some of us got a ride in the chase cars. Great day

  • AlexisWolf

    Ha! Great track too. Never known why the U-2 has such inadequate undercarriage. Can someone enlighten me?

    • William Dix

      Weight reduction for the most part. Any pound of weight dedicated to landing gear and related equipment is reduced to the bare minimum so that the U-2 can carry the maximum amount of sensors possible.

  • John

    Why was the pilot being arrested in the last part of the video?

    Is this SOP post crash?

    • pat

      I believe that was a joke.

    • FoilHatWearer

      I think they were just playing around. The cop looked real, so they probably had him “arrest” the pilot for a gag video.

  • Gridlock

    Chase car doing (presumably unintentional) donuts at around 2:10 :D

    Also a U2 pilot attempting a handbrake parallel-park, quite well really. Fantastic video, love this plane.

  • Ron Gillis

    i saw one of these things land at raf heyford in 63. i was a crash firefighter and the line truck called it in as “gear collapsed on landing.” the ap’s got to it first and set up a machine gun to keep us away and we didnt argue. amazing to watch one of those things take off too.

  • William Benjamin Abbott IV

    The little vertical bits at the ends of the wings are skids. No more, no less. The “pogo-stick” wheels mounted mid-wing (one is seen being dropped during one approach) are for take off only. At the end of a landing roll-out, unless people catch it, every U-2 winds up on one wing tip or the other. “Track” has got to be less than 2 feet on the single, main, landing gear. So that’s pretty hairy to start with. Add the lift, drag and density of a glider and you begin to see the problem. It doesn’t want to stop flying, it has no particular source of drag and there’s no way to dump lift. And they DO climb like homesick angels.
    Bill