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A Photo of the Most Elite Pilots on Earth Looking Incredibly Badass

Illustration for article titled A Photo of the Most Elite Pilots on Earth Looking Incredibly Badass

No, that's not a scene from The Right Stuff. It's 14 pilots of the ultra-high-altitude Lockheed U-2 in full pressure suits posing like action heroes in front of their beautiful plane. Eat it, Ed Harris.

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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.

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So yeah, that is pretty thoroughly incredible.

Update: Here's a link to download the full 19MB original file.

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DISCUSSION

auroranexus
Auroranexus

Great great people, and I am honored to be under the same flag as them, but..

Flying high and being elite is kinda different. I've seen guys in F-15s dodge 15 SAM missiles, MIGs, and still fly to and splash their objective. That's elite to me.

Flying a spy plane is much different, and sure, it's honorable and I would be honored to fly alongside them, I'm not dissing on their career, I'm just saying the title seems to diss the pilots who flew into the roar of chaos and lived beyond any expectations to talk about it.

Those planes fly so high so that they avoid having to deal with air combat for the most part.

Sure, I've never been sent overseas into war, I'm not saying I'm elite, I'm just saying that the title kinda feels like it's dissing on the pilots who have been to hell and back and lived.