Sixty years ago today the prototype Lockheed U-2 reconaissance aircraft ("Article 341") made its official first flight, from a secret airport at Groom Lake, Nevada, northwest of Las Vegas. This 45-minute flight was flown by Lockheed test pilot Tony LaVier using call sign Angel One with a Douglas C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) chase aircraft.
This was actually the U-2's second flight. Earlier, on 29 July, a preliminary taxi test was made at 50 knots. A second taxi run was made at 70 knots, and after retarding the throttles LaVier realized that the aircraft was airborne. He applied full throttle as buffeting indicated the onset of a stall but the Pratt & Whitney J57 engine's throttle response is leisurely and the aircraft landed hard on the lakebed, blowing both main landing gear tires.
Article 341 was built at Lockheed's plant in Burbank, California, disassembled, and flown to Groom Lake aboard a Douglas C-124 Globemaster II transport on 24 July. Reassembly took two days. The first few production U-2s were also built at Burbank but later production was moved a plant at Oildale, now Bakersfield's Meadows Field.
Today's Featured Map shows the transport paths from the two factories to Groom Lake, along with Las Vegas as a reference point for Groom Lake.
Information on this site may not be accurate or current and is not valid for flight planning or navigation. No warranty of fitness for any purpose is made or implied. Flight planning and navigation should only be done using official charts.
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Karl L. Swartz.
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