U-2 SPYPLANES : What You Didn't Know About Them !
by David Reade - P-3 Publications
U-2 Timeline: Research U-2 Milestones
Francis Gary Powers (with Lockheed's U-2 designer Kelly Johnson in 1966) - courtesy the National Museum of the US Air Force
- (Aug) Lockheed delivers the first U-2 Spyplane to the CIA, after a successful flight test of the "article 1" prototype aircraft.
- (7 May) Dr. Hugh Dryden of NACA (the predecessor of NASA) announces the existence of the U-2 aircraft, to be flown by the US Air Force's Air Weather Services. Dryden reports the aircraft will be used as a high-altitude research tools for meteorological investigations, including: jet stream studies, high-altitude temperature and wind structures (at jet stream altitudes) and cosmic ray research above 55,000 feet.
This is considered to be the first cover story for CIA operations of the U-2
- (20 June) the U-2 flies its first operational clandestine mission over Poland and East Germany for the CIA.
- (2 July) the U-2 flies its 2nd and 3rd operational clandestine over-flight missions of eastern Europe ( Czechoslovakia, Hungry, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and east Germany) for the CIA.
- (4 July) the U-2 flies its 4th operational clandestine mission for the CIA - this encompasses the very first over-flight of the Soviet Union.
- (11 June) the USAF's 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance (Weather) Squadron receives the Air Force's first six U-2A for operational use.
- ( Sept) the USAF's 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing receives five U-2A aircraft, modified for HASP air sampling - including atmospheric gases and particulate sampling devices.
- (Oct) U-2 HASP flights begin with detachment units to Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico & Plattsburgh AFB, New York.
- (14 Nov) a CIA U-2 flies over "Typhoon Kitt" conducting high-altitude photographic surveillance of the storm to bolster their weather recon cover story and support the Air Force's Air Weather Service's typhoon research.
- (28 Nov) U-2A #56-6722 is delivered to the Air Force, for modification in to the one and only HICAT U-2.
- (14-16 July) a CIA U-2 flies over "Typhoon Winnie" conducting high-altitude photographic surveillance of the storm to bolster their weather recon cover story and support the Air Force's Air Weather Service's typhoon research.
- (14 Sept) a CIA U-2 flies over "Super Typhoon Helen" conducting high-altitude photographic surveillance of the storm to bolster their weather recon cover story and support the Air Force's Air Weather Service's typhoon research.
- (24-25 Sept) a CIA U-2 flies over "Super Typhoon Ida" conducting high-altitude photographic surveillance of the storm to bolster their weather recon cover story and support the Air Force's Air Weather Service's typhoon research.
- (1 Oct) NACA is dissolved and replaced by NASA.
1960 - 1968
- AFCRL makes research U-2 available to the Weather Bureau's hurricane research project (NHRP) and its component "Stormfury" experimental hurricane modification project. Over the next eight years, AFCRL research U-2 will fly countless Atlantic hurricanes towards direct and indirect hurricane research.
- (1 May) Francis Gary Powers is shot down over Sverdlovsk, Russia (USSR)
- (6 May) a U-2 aircraft, with fictitious NASA serial number and NASA markings, is shown to the news media to bolster the pre-planned cover story of NASA conducting weather research flights with the U-2.
- (7 May) NASA Director Dr. Hugh L. Dryden issues a press release stating that a U-2 aircraft, conducting high-altitude weather research, has gone missing during a flight over Turkey - potentially due to oxygen difficulties.
- (22 May) a second NASA press release is issued with the cover story of NASA U-2 aircraft gone missing, while operating overseas, and presumed lost.
- (June) NASA, concerned that its reputation has been damaged in the wake of the Powers U-2 Affair, disengages from the CIA and will no longer provide them the cover story support for their covert U-2 Operations.
- a AFCRL controlled research U-2 is used for high-altitude space particle (micrometeorite) collection.
1962 - 1967
- AFCRL controlled research U-2 aircraft support the US Weather Bureau's WSR-57 weather radar network development.
1962 - 1966
- AFCRL controlled research U-2 aircraft are utilized for the Ozone Research Project and are flown over and into Atlantic Hurricanes.
- (March) the U-2 HASP program comes to an end with the signing of the Above Ground Test Ban Treaty between the US and USSR.
- (22 Oct) a AFCRL U-2 flies up, over and into the eye of "Hurricane Ginny". Equipped with specialized Ozone instruments, the aircraft conducts Ozone sampling, concentration measurements and cloud photography over the top of the storm and into the hurricane's eye.
This is the first ever high-altitude Ozone research probe of a tropical cyclone
1964 - 1966
- AFCRL controlled research U-2 aircraft is used in the Lightning Research Project (in association with Project Rough Rider) and is also utilized for the Jet Stream Cirrus (Cloud) Research Project.
- (Feb) the HICAT U-2 (#56-6722) conducts its first clear air turbulence research flights.
- (14 Oct) a AFCRL U-2 flies over Hurricane Isbell, and with specialized Ozone instruments, conducts Ozone measurements and cloud photography over the hurricane's eye.
- (21 Sept) the HICAT U-2 flies over and around the eye of Hurricane Beulah. Equipped with specialized thermal instruments, the aircraft conducts hurricane surveillance and high-altitude aerial photography of the hurricane's eye, as it makes landfall in southern Texas.
- (Feb) the U-2 flown HICAT Project comes to an end.
- (June) Air Force & AFCRL U-2 scientific research flights come to an end.
- (April) NASA gets approval for the use of U-2 Spyplanes for scientific research.
- (3-4 June) NASA receives two U-2C aircraft (#6681 / N708NA and #6682 / N709NA) for high-altitude research. These are ex-CIA aircraft.
- (1 Aug) CIA's U-2 manned reconnaissance operations come to an end, with the advent of improved Satellite coverage. All CIA U-2 aircraft, equipment and logistical support parts are transferred directly to the US Air Force.
- (11 May) NASA receives its first of three ER-2 (N706NA) aircraft to replace older U-2C aircraft. The ER-2 is based upon the improved TR-1A, which was later converted to and re-designated U-2S model.
First Lockheed Production U-2 (Article 001) - courtesy the National Museum of the US Air Force
Actual U-2 Aircraft photo negative of Hurricane Beulah (1963) - courtesy the NOAA Central Library
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Posted Thornton D. Barnes
By Thornton D. Barnes