Developed in the mid-1950s by Clarence "Kelly" Johnson and his team, the U-2 was designed for high altitude photoreconnaissance. Equipped with an 80-foot wingspan to aid in achieving maximum altitude, the U-2 at first could fly over the Soviet Union unharassed by Russian jets and antiaircraft missiles which were unable to match its performance. In 1960, however, the U-2 piloted by Francis Gary Powers was brought down during a reconnaissance mission in Soviet air space. Since that time, U-2s have played a vital role in reconnaissance of the Soviet missile buildup in Cuba in 1962, verification of nuclear testing in China, reconnaissance in Vietnam and the Middle East, and civil disaster assessment and environmental monitoring. The Air and Space Museum's aircraft is a U-2C painted in camouflage colors for a special Air Force project. (35k jpg)
Photo by Eric Long
Lockheed SR-71First flown in the 1960s, the SR-71 has the unofficial nickname, "Blackbird". It has flown high altitude missions over such areas as Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
Model by Mark E. Young.
SR-71 with chute deployed (158k GIF)
SR-71 landing at Dulles International Airport (141k GIF)