I am often asked that question, usually by someone to whom I have just explained that the Dragon Lady remains the world’s premier reconnaissance aircraft, and was not retired years ago! The answer is currently 31, comprising 25 single-seat U-2S models that can fly operational missions; four dual-cockpit TU-2S trainers; and two ER-2 versions that … Continue reading HOW MANY U-2s ARE STILL FLYING?
The 9th RW has flown another journalist: Michael Phillips of The Wall Street Journal. There is a very good video of his experience on the WSJ website: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-u-2-spy-plane-still-flying-combat-missions-60-years-after-debut-1528382700 Equally interesting, Phillips was told about a new project to use artificial intelligence to help interpret the imagery from the U-2’s Optical Bar Camera (OBC). On pages … Continue reading MAKING INTELLIGENT USE OF FILM
Now that the U-2 is staying in service for the foreseeable future, many possibilities for making it even better are being explored. Some are now funded, some are still on wish-lists. But Lockheed Martin U-2 program manager Kyle Franklin (below) has every reason to be optimistic. He told me recently: “we’re a sunrise platform now” … Continue reading THE SUN MAY NEVER SET ON THIS JET
“Shady Lady: 1,500 hours Flying the U-2 Spy Plane” by Lt Col Rick Bishop, Crecy Publishing, UK, 2017, £18.95. Distributed in the US by Specialty Press, $24.95 If you want to know what it’s really like to fly the U-2, look no further than this book. Rick Bishop was a Dragon Lady pilot for most … Continue reading SHADY LADY – A BOOK REVIEW
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 … Continue reading U-2 SQUADRON CONTINUES TO IMPROVISE
At the recent US Air Force Association convention and exhibition near Washington DC, I was interviewed by Vago Muradian, who runs The Defense & Aerospace Report website. We discussed the future of the U-2, and some related matters: http://defaeroreport.com/2017/09/27/ains-pocock-usafs-rq-4-global-hawk-u-2-complementary-aircraft/ Vago is very well known in defense circles, and - like me - has been privileged … Continue reading MY INTERVIEW AT AFA
RIAT is the Royal International Air Tattoo, the world’s best and largest military airshow, held at RAF Fairford in the UK every year in July. Fairford is also the stopover base for U-2s being ferried between the US and the deployment locations in the Near and Middle East. So when I learned that a two-plane … Continue reading THE U-2 AT RIAT
The Dragon Lady is now featured in the Air Warriors series of videos for The Smithsonian Channel. This 50-minute documentary covers the span of U-2 history from the early overflights of the Soviet Union, though the Gary Powers shootdown, the Cuba Missile Crisis, Vietnam, and onwards into the recent action over Afghanistan. It contains some … Continue reading AIR WARRIORS VIDEO DOCUMENTARY
The US Air Force Fiscal Year 2018 defense budget request has been published, and it confirms what I wrote here and elsewhere in March. "We plan to keep the U-2 well into the future - there is no retirement date," said Maj Gen Jim Martin, the Air Force deputy assistant secretary for budget. "We need … Continue reading IT’S OFFICIAL – NO RETIREMENT!
The Accident Investigation Board report into the crash of TU-2S 80-1068 on 20 September last year is available online, from the Scribd website. It shows, once again, why U-2 pilots must be more careful when flying this jet, than any other in the US military inventory. In this case, misfortune turned to tragedy when the … Continue reading U-2 TRAINER CRASH REPORT