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OK, so you're a U-2R pilot(4 posts)

OK, so you're a U-2R pilotsn69
Feb 10, 2003 7:17 PM
and you're currently "cruising" at an altitude in excess of 100,000 feet. By cruising, I mean that your stall margin, the speed differential that defines flying versus falling, is about 3 knots. Your control inputs have to be as precise as a surgeon's flying this high in spite of the fact that the control surfaces of your U-2's wings can barely get a bite on the thin atmosphere up here.

You're also exhausted, dehydrated, and thoroughly wrung-out after five hours of flying while you also monitor and control the real-time imagery systems on the aircraft that are streaming data to the UN inspectors far below in Iraq. So far, since taking off from central Saudi Arabia, you've refuled twice, both efforts stretching your flying skills at the other end of the spectrum while your lumbering U-2 gets batted around behind the KC-135.

Unfortunately, you can't exactly pause for a rest. In fact, you can't even get a drink of water or a snack. At this altitude, your spacesuit--just like the ones the astronauts wear--is all that keeps your blood from boiling. Without it, your time of useful consciousness would be measured in milliseconds, and your bodily fluids would sublimate to gas in only slightly longer.

Your U-2's single turbojet engine is straining to suck enough air to squeeze, bang and blow at this altitude. If you had the time, you would no doubt marvel at the view. From this altitude, the sky is black and the earth is curved. You can see from the Med to the Red Sea to the Bay of Biscay to the Himilayas in the distance. The earth below you--Iraq--is little more than a hazy, brown mass. But, you don't have time to sightsee because, in addition to everything else, you are fastidiously watching your radar warning receiver, which is lit up with Iraqi SA-2 and SA-5 surface to air missile guidance radars, all tracking you.

Normally, you'd relay that to the AWACS or JSTARS below so coaltion aircraft could bomb and suppress the sites in the northern and southern zones. Unfortunately, at Chirac's urging the coaltion agreed to suspend ONW and OSW strikes in support of previously standing UN resolutions. Now, Hussien has renegged on his agreements yet again, and you are now a slow moving, un-manueverable target.

When/if the missile hits, your remains will be scattered from Iraq to the Caucasius mountains of Georgia and southern Russia. You take solace in the fact, at least, that you won't feel much of anything....
re: OK, so you're a U-2R pilotSkip
Feb 10, 2003 7:55 PM
As much as I love flying, in this situation, I vote for a (or several) geosynchronous satelite(s) parked high above, capable of continuously photographing, down to centimeters, in real time.
Great writing! nmOldEdScott
Feb 11, 2003 5:37 AM
Hope you remembered to send in the warranty registration.torquer
Feb 11, 2003 9:04 AM
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