|Quoting sabim (Reply 6):|
Anyway, this plane is with no doubt a remarkable chapter of both aviation and cold war history. I read it was also very hard to fly and even harder to land, even on dryland.
Not hard to fly technically, but definitely physically. They wanted light controls at altitude, resulting in extremely heavy controls lower down. Its flying characteristics though were not unlike a glider, and any old idiot can fly them, myself being case in point. It was hard to maintain flight at operational height as they were cruising in a very narrow band of airspeed (a couple of knots two low and you stall, and a couple to high and you start to buffet), dubbed "coffin corner". This band of airspeed only got smaller as upgrades to the autopilot improved so the plane could go a tad higher still.
The landing difficulty is principally due to poor visibility, hence the fast car to talk the pilot down in the flare (and spoilers that could be more effective). The U2
suffered from a tendency to ground loop, a trait also shared with sailplanes, but in this case the limited visibility compounded the issue. I recommend this NSFW video on U2
landings for those that haven't seen it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eamnT...laynext_from=TL&videos=VMqec4lYNGk