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ChiChiWerx Talks about flying the U-2

18.9k Default4  9 months ago

Q1 What was it like wearing that suit in such a tiny space?
ChiChi: ” Not too bad. The cockpit is actually quite wide from shoulder level down. And the suit was, for me, like a very comfortable ski jacket and pants (trousers, for you UK types). The fishbowl on the cranium took some getting used to, though, as you really didn't pop open at altitude, so you couldn't scratch your nose. There was a way around that, you could put a drinking tube through the drinking port and reach it up to the vicinity of your nose (or other facial feature) and scratch using the end of the tube. But, it was difficult and you never seemed to get satisfactory results. But, you tried to stay fairly still during the flight and not thrash around too much as too much movement could evolve N2 bubbles in your joints. The cockpit could get quite full, especially on a long sortie...I typically carried around 7 drink bottles on a long flight, which were placed on the shelves behind your elbows. Then, you had checklists, mission boards, a whole lot of things we carried. It could get cluttered if you didn't keep house.”
Q2: What was it like flying at 70k feet?
ChiChi: ”The U-2 has a good autopilot, so it was typically fairly peaceful. You're above all (or most, given there were other U-2s typically airborne around Beale) other traffic, so ATC would let you go anywhere you wanted. It could get interesting, though, if you hit mountain wave turbulence, which actually exists at those altitudes. And, if you hit temperature variations, you could be in for a wild ride. I'd typically disconnect the autopilot and hand fly it to make sure any excursions didn't exceed speed limits.”
Q3: what were your usual mission objectives?
ChiChi: ” Can't get into wartime mission details...however, I can tell you that the U-2 is used, when requested by national authorities, from time to time to support humanitarian missions, as well as disaster relief, even inside the CONUS (Continental U.S.). We've photographed in support of earthquake recovery efforts, tracked wildfires, etc.”
Q4: could you ask them if he was a soloer or just went up in the two-place U-2? Also, could he/she feel how flimsy the fuselage and wings were?
ChiChi: ”If you make it through training, you're qualified to fly the single seater. I have more than 1,500 hrs in the U-2. I was qualified as a mission pilot (MP), instructor pilot (IP) and evaluator pilot (EP) in both the single (U-2) and two seater (U-2ST) jet. I drove and instructed in (and from) the chase car and in the two seater. For single seat instruction, you had to do it from the ground and chase car, which made for some interesting situations.
Q5: “ also ask him what was the riskiest moment in his time flying the U-2 in his opinion”
ChiChi: ”Every time you landed the jet was probably the riskiest part of the mission. I have a couple of combat missions that I would have considered "risky", but can't discuss why or the specific scenarios involved. But, as with all USAF missions, we were trainined and ready, as best we could be, for any and all scenarios, including all mentioned.”

Q6: What was your funniest moment flying the U-2 or U-2 Trainer?
ChiChi: ”Unfortunately, most of the funny moments had to do with problems related to bodily functions. Well, if you're flying really long missions in a confined space and your piss can wasn't emptied by maintenance before you took off, or if you ate the wrong thing the night prior, well, you get the idea.“
Me: Anything else before we wrap up?
ChiChi: ” If anyone wants to become a pilot, I'd encourage them to go for it. It's a long shot, and it takes a lot of hard work, study and dedication, but it's been totally worth it for me. I wouldn't change anything about my career, even now.”

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    28.0k ChiChiWerx

    @NotSoNormalPioneer all USAF pilots are officers and all officers have to attend a commissioning source, either OTS, if you already have a college/university degree, ROTC, if attending a civilian university, or the U.S. Air Academy. This all happens well prior to pilot training, which happens well prior to even applying to the U-2 program.

    Pinned 9 months ago
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    28.0k ChiChiWerx
    1. Yes, because you had to unlearn a lot of things you had ingrained from flying other airplanes, like easing forward on the yoke upon touchdown. If you tried that in the U-2, the jet would try and leave the runway.
    2. The Academy was tough, but hard work paid off. Pilot training was probably the hardest single year of my life. I was lucky to graduate. Relearning how to fly in the U-2 during my interview. But life is a series of challenges that you either overcome or fail while trying.
    Pinned 9 months ago
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    28.0k ChiChiWerx

    @Numbers yes, it's like landing a giant, heavy, twitchy glider that doesn't want to stop flying. The preferred landing attitude was "slightly tailwheel first", which meant the wing was stalled and not producing lift ("flying") upon touchdown. As for the chase car not being there, there were actually a number of scenarios where that would occur. Most frequently, when making a sharp turn onto the runway (AKA "90 degree run-in"), if you weren't careful, you could spin out in the chase car. What typically followed was a "You're on your own!" call on the radio. But we trained to do "no voice" landings, so we could land the jet fairly well without the chase car, if we had to. I'd, from time to time, fly a practice sortie and request all no voice landings.

    Pinned 9 months ago
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    I've heard that the U-2 was one of the hardest planes to land because of the bicycle gear with no wing support wheels. Interesting stuff.

    9 months ago
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    man that's really cool to hear, i hope there will be other similar stuff in the future!

    9 months ago
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    7,860 Kangy

    Thank you so much for answering my questions!
    This is an amazing opportunity :) @ChiChiWerx

    9 months ago
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    21.4k rexzion

    ooh nice

    9 months ago
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    29.0k PapaKernels

    @ChiChiWerx that's cool man! I honestly didn't think the u2 was still in use, it's such an old aircraft.

    9 months ago
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    22.5k BagelPlane

    Wow, this is super interesting

    9 months ago
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    13.7k Stinkypinky

    @ChiChiWerx I'm making one for SR2.

    +1 9 months ago
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    7,177 SuperRoto

    I’ve seen stuff about the U-2 on Mythbusters. That stuff is insane, the landings are crazy, with the chase car and stuff. Landing either like a dragon, or a lady, hence the nickname “Dragon Lady”

    9 months ago
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    7,860 Kangy

    @ChiChiWerx
    Oh I have a couple of questions too.
    1. Was training to fly the U-2 hard?
    2. Was your journey to flying in the USAF tough?
    (I’m trying to become an RAAF pilot of some kind and I’m in high school rn so yeah)

    9 months ago
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    7,860 Kangy

    This is amazing
    I’m loving this series!
    Also I can see why he isn’t allowed to talk about mission objectives, most military pilots aren’t allowed to talk about any secret information for fear of knowledge being spread.
    Nonetheless looking forward to some more of these! :)

    9 months ago
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    18.9k Default4

    There mate @UltraLight

    9 months ago
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    that's epic as heck

    +3 9 months ago
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    24.1k UltraLight

    @Default4 thank you very much!

    9 months ago
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    18.5k NexusGaming

    @Default4 also ask him what was the riskiest moment in his time flying the U-2 in his opinion

    +1 9 months ago
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    18.9k Default4

    Sure can! @UltraLight

    +1 9 months ago
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    24.1k UltraLight

    @Default4 could you ask them if he was a soloer or just went up in the two-place U-2? Also, could he/she feel how flimsy the fuselage and wings were?

    9 months ago
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    24.1k UltraLight

    @Default4 wow this is gonna be good

    9 months ago
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    18.9k Default4

    Lol @TriStar @UltraLight

    9 months ago
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    24.1k UltraLight

    ChiChi: "no"

    9 months ago
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    24.1k UltraLight

    ChiChi: "no"

    9 months ago
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    25.9k TriStar

    Here before finished

    9 months ago