Saturday, May 16, 2009

U2 Spy Plane Chase Cars

The U2 spy plane is very hard to land. It is light, has a huge wingspan, and will float in the air forever. The pilot literally has to stall it when it is close to the ground. Moreover, the plane has to be level or it will tip over and crash. Finally, ground visibility is virtually nil for the pilot.

As such, a chase car is needed to land a U2. In the 1950s, large displacement Ford station wagons, driven by fellow U2 pilots, chased the U2s as they landed. The chase car crew would talk the pilot down safely.

From the 1970s through 1986, El Caminos were used at American bases throughout the world, acting as chase vehicles. From 1986 to the late 90s, specially equipped Mustangs (like the highway patrol cars) were used.

The Chevy Camaro Z28 with the 5.7 liter V8 replaced the Mustang. When they stopped making the Camaro, blue Holden Monaros/Pontiac GTOs became the official chase cars.  Now, white Pontiac G8s are used.

Sources: Ford Mustang SSP and Motor Trend


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