The most feared plane of the cold war? This just might be it
Gary Powers’ U-2 aircraft was disabled. Hit by Soviet surface-to-air missiles, the plane fell from 70,000 feet to 30,000 feet before Powers could release himself and bail out of the damaged cockpit. It was May 1, 1960, and the Cold War was heating up.
At Lockheed’s advanced development group, the Skunk Works® in Burbank, work had already begun on an innovative aircraft to improve intelligence-gathering, one that would fly faster than any aircraft before or since, at greater altitude, and with a minimal radar cross section. President Eisenhower deeply valued the strategic benefits of the U-2’s airborne reconnaissance during these tense Cold War times. And now the call came from Lockheed’s customer in Washington to build the impossible – an aircraft that can’t be shot down – and do it fast.
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