The Most Elite Pilots On Earth Looking Badass

No, that's not a scene from The Right Stuff. It's 14 pilots of the high-tech Lockheed U-2 in full pressure suits posing like action heroes in front of their beautiful plane. Eat it, Ed Harris.

Here's an explanation of what's going on from the US Air Force:

I wanted to send you a photo you might want to share with your readers. I know you've contacted us about U-2 stories in the past. Attached and linked is a photo we just shot of a formation of U-2 pilots in full pressure suits (NASA adopted the U-2 full pressure suits for the shuttle program) in front of a Dragon Lady on the Beale AFB, Calif flightline.

As you know, U-2 pilots are now the highest flying humans in the world (70,000+ feet) with the exception of the individuals in the ISS now that the NASA shuttle program has ended.

Pictured are 14 of a total of about 80 pilots currently qualified on the U-2. Less people have flown the U-2 than there are people with Super Bowl rings.

That is thoroughly incredible.


    I still find it amusing that the words "high-tech" can go along with a plane conceived over 60 years ago. Guess they did it right the first time.

    I loved the look of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and thought it was a better high altitude jet than the U2, but the U2 is still flying and the SR-71 is no more.

      Time aloft, distance between refuelling.. etc... Horses for courses..

      The U2 is a more efficient to operate (Aspect ratio gives that away) and 400 knots is a lot more manageable from a deign standpoint than Mach3.3+ (thermally and structurally)
      Range is double, altitude negligibly different...

      Of course no SR71's were shot down at speed and altitude (that's a plus), but you better get that tanker in there soon if Max. speed has been used. (78000 kg is a heavy plane SR71) Also, Russia is a little bigger than 3000 nm, so the SR71 couldn't reach al of its potential cold war destinations.

      Both planes are kickass... remember the SR71's are all still there.. the museum pieces can readily be converted back into flight ready planes...

    cheaper to fly then the blackbird....

    They look fantastic but they're definitely not "The Most Elite Pilots On Earth". Certainly better and more elite than anyone I know, that's for sure.

    That's awesome - and the blacked out helmets mean the pilots didn't need to put on a silly straight face for the shot.

    Alternatively, this could be the album cover shot for a really large boy band.

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