FIFTY years ago today, the Soviet Union announced that it had shot down an American U-2 spy plane and that its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was alive.
It seems like a long-ago event from the cold war. That may be why, in this era of satellites and drones, most people are surprised to learn that the U-2 is not only still in use, but that it is as much a part of our national security structure as it was a half-century ago. …
The new generation of drones have their merits. But flying robots, no matter how advanced, can’t measure up to the courage and commitment of a pilot who is risking her life for the sake of the mission.
Reconnaissance will outlive the U-2, but there will always be a divot in the hearts of those who have seen the curvature of the earth, the stars seemingly close enough to touch, and known the satisfaction of having completed a mission with the Dragon Lady.