This Is How You Hand-Launch A U-2 Spy Plane After It Loses A Wheel

The U-2 was not designed for life on the ground. It relies on fall-away "pogo" wheels that work as outriggers for its long wings during taxi and takeoff. Apparently, these wheels fall off prematurely from time to time. Easy fix! Just get out on the runway and hold the wing while the U-2 goes to full power, than try not to be blown down the runway like a rag doll!

According to a U-2 pilot friend of mine, who also took the video from the U-2 chase car (Pontiac G8, GTO or Chevy Camaro SS), this is how it all goes down:

One of the things I like the most about the U-2 is the simplicity that went into the design. There are wheels that are supposed to fall out on initial takeoff. What do you do when one of the wheels falls out before the plane moves? get a person to hold up the wing, run a few steps, then duck before the jet blast knocks them over. Easy!


Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address

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