❔❔Welcome to another #AskExtremeRoss ⁉️
@ the.flying.fabricator has asked “What’s your average flight time in the U-2? It seems like a bit much to get it out and ready just to take it up and out for an hour or 2.”
So for the most part, the U-2 pilot lives in two different worlds. There’s the time he’s home at Beale, and there are the times he (or she) is deployed to another part of the world.
At home, a U-2 pilot only typically flies several times a month. Most of those will be “low” flights where they practice landings and emergency patterns. Those are around an hour or hour and a half. And fewer will be “high” flights, where you put on the suit and go up to altitude. Usually on those, you’re practicing navigation exercises or other operational scenarios. But the biggest thing is to keep you proficient flying in a space suit. Those are just a couple of hours long. But you could still practice things you would never do on an operational mission with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment onboard. I used to practice having an imminent engine failure and pulling the throttle to idle over Lake Tahoe at ~70,000 feet. Then gliding to land and not touching power until taxiing to park after landing 30 minutes later.
Then, when you deploy, it’s all operational flying. Missions are 8-10 hours (or more). You get in a rhythm of flying every few days.
So yes, it is a lot to put everything together to go out for just a few hours. But those training hours are vital to ensuring your skills are sharp when you deploy and might have to save your own butt (and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stuff.