14 pilots with their full pressure suits posing in front of the very high-altitude Lockheed U-2 (Dragon Lady) reconnaissance aircraft, operated by the United States Air Force (USAF).
According to gizmodo here’s an explanation of what’s going on from the Air Force:
“I wanted to send you a photo you might want to share with your readers. I know you’ve contacted us about U-2 stories in the past. Attached and linked is a photo we just shot of a formation of U-2 pilots in full pressure suits (NASA adopted the U-2 full pressure suits for the shuttle program) in front of a Dragon Lady on the Beale AFB, Calif flightline.
As you know, U-2 pilots are now the highest flying humans in the world (70,000+ feet) with the exception of the individuals in the ISS now that the NASA shuttle program has ended.
Pictured are 14 of a total of about 80 pilots currently qualified on the U-2. Less people have flown the U-2 than there are people with Super Bowl rings.”
Download the full 19MB original image here.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed “Dragon Lady“, is a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It provides day and night, very high-altitude (70,000 feet / 21,000 m), all-weather intelligence gathering. The aircraft is also used for electronic sensor research and development, satellite calibration, and satellite data validation.