Dragon Lady: A Portrait Gallery
Once a top secret, the U-2 is one photogenic spyplane.
- By Paul Hoversten
- AirSpaceMag.com, March 20, 2012
First flown in August 1955, the Lockheed U-2 has an endurance record few aircraft can match: It’s still in service today with the U.S. Air Force on high-altitude reconnaissance missions over Afghanistan. The storied Dragon Lady is expected to continue flying until about 2023.
Initial testing of the classified aircraft was done at Groom Lake (pictured), a remote dry lake in Nevada nicknamed “The Ranch” and now known as Area 51. The aircraft were airlifted in pieces from Lockheed’s Burbank, California plant to Groom Lake and assembled there. These CIA aircraft carry fictional National Advisory Council for Aeronautics insignia and numbers.