Desert Storm 30: The U-2's Olympic Flare missions

When the call came to deploy Lockheed U-2s to the Middle East on August 7, 1990, the 9th Reconnaissance Wing was well placed to respond with men and machines, but it quickly became apparent that the way of operating the aircraft that had served so well throughout the Cold War would have to be radically modified.

The U-2 gets its Dragon Lady nickname for good reason – it’s a handful to fly, even for experienced pilots. The engineering that made it light enough to fly at 70,000ft, 13 miles above the ground, also made it fiendishly difficult to control; the margin between stalling and uncontrollable overspeed was wafer-thin.

U-2 Olympic Flare [Chuck Wilson]
After Desert Storm, the squadron was renumbered 4402nd RS and undertook United Nations (UN) flying missions over Iraq. Chuck Wilson

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