Local

January 5, 2019
 

Dragon Lady makes rare appearance at Nellis

Tags:
Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie
Nellis AFB, Nev.

A Lockheed U-2, assigned to Beale Air Force Base, Calif., prepares to take off at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The U-2 traveled to Nellis to take part in the Weapons School Integration.

Gliding over the skies of Southern Nevada at an altitude of approximately 70,000 feet, an all-black, single jet engine aircraft dubbed the Dragon Lady travels to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The Lockheed U-2, assigned to Beale Air Force Base, Calif., is an ultra high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft that provides day and night, all-weather intelligence gathering. 

The U-2 traveled to Nellis to take part in the Weapons School Integration; a series of complex, large-force employment missions that served as the capstone portion of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School courses.

“We’re participating in this large force exercise to help give the Weapons School students the opportunity to integrate with the U-2,” said Maj. John, WSINT participant and U-2 pilot assigned to the 19th Weapons Squadron.

Airmen across the flightline watched in awe as the Dragon Lady circled around the base before coming in for its final approach. Just as the aircraft prepared to land, a chase car raced down the flightline at speeds reaching nearly 150 miles per hour to assist in one of the most difficult landings at Nellis. With a radio in one hand and the steering wheel in the other, the pilot driving the chase car began counting down from 10 to inform the U-2 pilot of the distance in feet between the aircraft and the ground.

Master Sgt. Antonio King, Lockheed U-2 production superintendent assigned to the 99th Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., inspects the U-2 before takeoff at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The U-2 maintainers launch, recover and maintain the aircraft.

The aircraft pilot’s view was limited due to the restricting helmet and suit worn while in flight. The purpose of the chase car is to ensure a safe landing for the aircraft and pilot, said Capt. Joseph, WSINT participant and U-2 pilot assigned to the 19th WPS. The wheels of the U-2 have to touch the ground at the same time due to the bicycle-style landing gear or it could bounce and possibly damage the aircraft. 

“The modernized U-2 that we currently fly is a great jet,” said John. “What’s really unique about it is that it helps our ability to look as far as we can. It carries a large number of sensors to an unmatched altitude quicker than any other aircraft, while having a person on board to problem solve, maneuver and defend it.”

A Lockheed U-2 pilot, assigned to the 19th Weapons Squadron, observes a U-2 preparing for its flight at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The U-2 is an ultra high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft that provides day and night, all-weather intelligence gathering.

The Dragon Lady is a great addition to WSINT because it is versatile, continually evolving and an asset that is ready to integrate with other assets. 

“Being here for WSINT allows us to tactfully integrate with the rest of the combat air forces by giving them the timely intelligence they need for their missions,” said Maj. Jonathan, WSINT participant and U-2 pilot assigned to the 19th WPS. “It was an amazing learning experience for us, and we’re so grateful to everyone on Nellis for their support. We look forward to participating in more exercises in the future.”
 

Lt. Col. Joseph, Lockheed U-2 pilot assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., assists a U-2 landing while driving a chase car at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The purpose of the chase car was to ensure a safe landing for the aircraft and pilot since their view is limited due to the restricting helmet and suit worn while in flight.

 

A Lockheed U-2 pilot, assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., salutes his maintainer before getting into his aircraft at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The U-2 pilot must wear a full pressure suit similar to those worn by astronauts.

 

A Lockheed U-2 pilot, assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., prepares for takeoff with the help of his maintainers and fellow U-2 pilots at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The U-2 pilot must wear a full pressure suit similar to those worn by astronauts due to the high altitudes they’re able to reach in their aircraft.

 

A Lockheed U-2 pilot, assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., prepares for takeoff at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The U-2 arrived at Nellis to participate in the Weapons School Integration.

 

Airman 1s Class Joaquin Quintero, Lockheed U-2 crew chief assigned to the 99th Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., signs forms before takeoff at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The U-2, along with pilots and maintenance, traveled to Nellis to take part in the Weapons School Integration.

 

A Lockheed U-2, assigned to Beale Air Force Base, Calif., takes flight at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Long and narrow wings give the U-2 glider-like characteristics and allow it to quickly lift heavy sensor payloads to unmatched altitudes, keeping them there for extended periods of time.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

461st FLTS lands two more F-35s for test

Lockheed Martin photograph by Chad Bellay Members of the 461st Flight Test Squadron pose for a photo in front of a newly delivered F-35A March 7, 2019. The 461st Flight Test Squadron and F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Ai...
 
 

What to do with a setback

It was a dreary day five years ago when I received a phone call at home from my squadron commander informing me that my name was not on the selection list for promotion to lieutenant colonel. Since this was my “In Promotion Zone” board, the significance of not being selected cannot be understated. As with...
 
 

The right balance produces peak performance

Starting a new year often motivates us to accomplish new goals, but the largest obstacle to overcome is maintaining motivation past January! Achieving peak performances will come when we find the right balance our lives. As we plan our goals, we must ensure they are diverse and stretch well beyond just work- related goals. Our...