Improvisation has always been a tradition in the U-2 program. In the earliest days, it was the fixing of a piece of string above the cockpit transparency to give the pilot some indication of yaw, and the addition of that rear-view mirror so that he could monitor contrails. Later, it was the parcel delivery vans that were bought off-the-shelf and modified to provide transport to the flight line for the pressure-suited pilot and his attendants from the Physiological Support Division (PSD). There are many other examples.

In a new and very good article, Defense News reporter Valerie Insinna describes how the 99th RS at Beale AFB is continuing the tradition by using tablet computers for navigation and unclassified communications, and a software application that gives mission planners access to datalinked information from previous sorties. Coming soon will be a means to capture navigation or physiological data from the Garmin watches worn by pilots:


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