Two iconic Air Force jets are scheduled to fly over the Air Force Academy on Thursday as freshmen begin their recognition as upper-class cadets, said an Academy press release.
One U-2 Dragon Lady conduct a single pass of the Air Force Academy before noon. The spy plane will be followed by a B-1B Lancer between 4-5 p.m., said the release.
The secretive U-2 program flew its first mission in August 1955 as a high-altitude, all-weather surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, according to an Air Force fact sheet.
The spy plane – stationed at Beale Air Force Base in California – routinely flies at 70,000 feet where the pilot must wear a pressure suit like ones worn by astronauts, said the fact sheet.
The U-2 photographed Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. More recently, it has provided intelligence during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to the fact sheet.
The B-1B Lancer carries the largest conventional payload of any Air Force bomber. It’s four afterburning engines, adjustable wing settings and unique design allows the bomber to rapidly deploy “massive quantities” of munitions anywhere in the world, said an Air Force fact sheet.
During the first six months of the Afghanistan War, eight B-1s dropped 40 percent of all munitions – including 3,900 guided bombs – delivered by coalition forces in Afghanistan, said the fact sheet.
While the U-2’s single engine might not turn heads, the four engines of the B-1 are hard to miss.
“Residents in communities surrounding the Air Force Academy can expect increased noise during these times,” the Academy said in the release.