The Corner

Elevation

U-2 pilot Cholene Espinoza:

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.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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