U-2 in Trouble
He Was on Top of the World Until He Wasn’t
My mission on January 26, 2003, began much like my previous 80 U-2 highaltitude flights: with a high-protein meal, a mission briefing with my mobile officer and supervisor of flying (both fully qualified U-2 pilots), a short flight physical, suiting up, and two hours of breathing 100 percent oxygen. Weather was typical of a Korean winter: low IFR (instrument flight rules) ceilings and cloud tops around 25,000 feet. There was light snow forecast for later in the day. It was Super Bowl Sunday and only two days before the President’s State of the Union speech, but by the end of the day, this routine mission would be the top story on nearly every media outlet.
U-2 pilots must use a special pressurized David Clark flight suit due to the extreme operational altitudes in which they fly. The yellow box is their environmental control system that goes along with them.