The U2 Spy Plane: Still Going Strong, Still Terrifying to Fly | Autopia | WIRED
Besides which, I've watched them take off from Beale AFB for nearly 20 years, and with a pair of binoculars, I can actually watch them taxi on the tarmac at Beale.When the Lockheed U-2 first took to the air in 1955, it was a fragile, hard-to-maneuver beast good for one thing—snapping photos from more than 70,000 feet overhead. The U-2 is still a fragile, hard-to-*maneuver beast, but it still flies plenty of missions, because the alternatives aren’t great. Satellites can drift half a planet away from their targets, and the only comparable drone, the Global Hawk, cannot *manage the same kind of payload, sensor capability, or altitude. That doesn’t mean engineers haven’t made a few improvements to the U-2 though. Today it has a 40 percent larger airframe, a more efficient engine, and a computerized instrument panel. Plus, pilots no longer fly with cyanide pills in case of capture.
This link shows a photo of a U2 taking off from Beale... http://airman.dodlive.mil/2012/09/u-2-above-all/
Next time you feel the urge to post something totally off-the-wall, do yourself a favor and Google it first.