When designing a high-performance car, you need to save as much weight as possible. The same goes for the high-flying Lockheed U-2 spy plane. This plane’s performance, however, isn’t reliant on speed as much as it is on sheer altitude.
This U-2 can fly at altitudes up to 70,000 feet—that’s basically in space. To get that high, engineers cut every bit of weight they could—even the landing gear! Normal planes have three sets of permanent landing gear; the U-2 only has two arranged like a bicycle, and the back pair is so small they call them “skateboard” wheels. This makes landing the U-2 incredibly difficult and dangerous.
Giving the U-2 some extra wheels, so to speak, is the Chevrolet Camaro. When the U-2 comes in to land, someone is there waiting to help guide the plane down. You need a fast car to keep up with a flying jet and the Camaro is the car of choice.
With one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding a radio, the driver follows right behind the jet, talks to the U-2 pilot, and tells him how high he is off the ground. Once the plane gets down to 2 feet off the runway, the pilot has to essentially stall the engine to land and then balance the plane on the two small sets of wheels. When the plane stops, the ground crew installs two “pogos” on the wings to hold the plane up.
Watch this incredible video to see the amazing piloting and driving skills in action.