YouTube / US Military News
With missions lasting for hours, U-2 pilots need to be thoroughly prepared to fly a demanding plane. The U-2 enters the “Coffin Corner” when it reaches its max speed because the margin between that and the stall speed is very thin.
Since the pilots go up to unimaginable heights, they’re more likely to be considered astronauts than aviators, and their suits prove it. Pressure suits and spherical helmets are donned by U-2 pilots which resemble spacesuits.
At that height and speed, pilots are in constant danger of hypoxia and decompression sickness.
The U-2 is relatively light so landing it is challenging – and the glider-like wings don’t help. If not done correctly, the U-2 can bounce back into the air.
In landings, chase cars driven by fellow U-2 pilots are needed for assistance. This is because the U-2’s nose is too long and the pilot can’t see under the front of the plane.