Chase car footage shows why the U-2 Dragon Lady is one of the most technically difficult planes to land

Watch these U-2 Dragon Ladies land at RAF Fairford.

Taken on Jun. 9, 2015 this interesting footage shows why the Dragon Lady is one of the most difficult plane to land in the world.

As we have already seen in the U-2 clips taken at Beale Air Force Base, this iconic reconnaissance aircraft requires some special landing assistance by chase cars driven by experienced pilots who talk their colleagues aboard the U-2s during (take off or) landing: in fact, since the pilot’s view on a Dragon Lady is obstructed by the airframe, chase cars drivers provide additional information about distance to touchdown and altitude in order to make landings less risky.

Pontiac G8 GTs and 400 HP V-8 Chevrolet Camaro SS cars, modified with U/VHF radios, are among the cars used to chase U-2s both at Beale and abroad.

Beale AFB, home of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, north of Sacramento, hosts the last U.S. Air Force’s U-2 Dragon Lady spyplanes as well as RQ-4 Global Hawks  drones, which require the same kind of landing assistance by chase cars.


  1. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I don’t quite get the need for the chase car. For both of the landings shown, it seems like the pilots don’t have trouble getting the aircraft to within 2-3 feet of the ground because they are able to descend to and maintain that altitude for sometime. In the first landing, the pilot kind of dropped the jet onto the runway from roughly two feet up without damaging the aircraft. What is the spotter car adding here?

  2. Why are the fire trucks there spraying in an arch over this U2. Was this the pilot’s first solo?

  3. Am I the only one to think that instead of spending hundreds of billions for a useless, poor fighter/bomber (AKA F35), it would have been wiser to develop a new spyplane? You know, just something more practical, that doesn’t need a CAR to land, and 6 men to remain straight…

    • that is the beauty of black programs, the AF/gov won’t acknowledge they exist until there is a replacement. yanno the F-117 was in operation for 6 years before it was acknowledged to exist. when the SR was retired you can bet there was a replacement. Satellites can do a great job but it takes time to reorbit them where with a spy plane they can be over site in a matter of hours.

  4. As an engineer I wonder what the meeting was like, when they decided to put a non-stable landing gear on a million dollar plane..

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