Fifty years ago, the United States Air Force discovered its top-secret Lockheed U-2 spy plane was nightmarishly tricky to fly. To keep aircraft from crashing, they began using high-speed chase/guide cars during take-offs and landings.
The Lockheed U-2S “Spy Plane”! Dating to the early 1950’s and still in active service with the USAF in 2017. We see two example’s departing RAF Fairford in true dramatic style.. These things climb like rockets. They needs a chase car to avoid the damage of crash. A Tesla Model S sedan has been spotted at RAF Fairford, a sprawling U.S. Air Force base in the United Kingdom, accompanying U-2 spy planes during takeoffs. The so-called "chase cars" monitor the airplane on the ground and assist the pilot during takeoff.
Because of the speeds involved, the chase cars are usually high-performance cars. They wait at the end of the runway, and when the U-2 passes, they burn rubber to keep up, calling out altitude and wing attitude over the radio. When the airplane’s main gear is roughly two feet over the tarmac, the pilot deploys several sets of spoilers and flaps to reduce lift and minimize wing drop, lowers the plane down, slows to a stop while balancing on the two center wheels, and then drops a wingtip to the ground and stops.
The aircraft has a huge turning radius on the ground, a function of its wide wingspan and location of its landing gear. Small landing gear wheels called "pogos" that keep the plane's sagging, fuel-laden wings from dragging on the ground fall away during takeoff, making any abort during the process inherently dangerous.
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