U-2 Spy Plane Pilot Lives On The Edge

This guy is getting the works: medical check, pressure suit, air supply, mission control team, escort vehicle. He's not an astronaut going into space, but he comes pretty close. This pilot flies a U2S spy plane, cruising at 70,000 feet, so high he can see the limits of our atmosphere.

(YouTube link)

The U2 is considered the most difficult plane to fly, as it it was designed for minimum weight. At altitude, the pilot must maintain a constant speed, since the difference between the stall speed and the "never exceed" speed is only 12mph. Outside that narrow window, the plane could fall apart. Landing requires contact with a chase car because the pilot cannot see the ground near him, and the slightest angle could drag those wide wings. -via Digg

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