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Flying SR-71, U-2, or Space Shuttle

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Well-known member
Nov 28, 2001
I don't think I'll ever make it to that level, but I was curious what are the military requirements to fly these aircrafts?

I guess you need to be at least a captain, but what else do you need? Is the SR-71 still being used by the military?
Last time I checked the Space Shuttle was being operated by NASA and not the military....

Also I THINK the SR-71 has been retired for a few years and a couple are also being flown by NASA for "Atmospheric Research"...

I believe the U-2 is still in service... and operated by the Air Force (although originally it was operated by the CIA)
All the sr-71 have been retired by military. The sad day happend in the 90's. Nasa I remeber has 1 or 2. (I think nasa has the only B model around.) As for requirements; I just a military brat that grew up around the black bird, I wouldn't have a clue for you.

I think in '98 they were going bring 1 or 2 back into service, but that got cut. The U-2 is cheaper and still has plenty of life in it with the current models their running.
I thought you had to get permission from the military to apply to be an astronaut if you were in the military.
My brother is a KC-135 mechanic, at his base there are a couple that carry the JP-7( or whatever the thing burns) "only" and they go out regularly.
SR-71s are gone except for the NASA birds, and I think even they are contract or NASA pilots.

U-2s will be around for awhile but eventually will be replaced by Global Hawk and other UAVs.

Don't know how the USAF works, but in the Navy you have to be selected for the astronaut program and then you compete with everyone else to get into NASA and actually fly. I know several guys who have 'selected' but never got picked up by NASA are still still atmosphere-bound nasal radiators.
U-2 Can Be a Pilot

As I remember, all U-2 pilots are volunteers who must apply and be accepted for the program. Typical applicants have flown one Major Weapon System and hold the rank of Captain (though they usually Instructors or Evaluators on their aircraft).

Once selected (don't know how many apply each year), the applicants travel to California for Interviews, Physicals, and Flight Evaluations in the two-seat U-2 (it's very difficult to land).

One of the guys from our Squadron ended up in the program, but I haven't heard from him in years.

I wish you succees!
Bill hit it on the head.
In the U2 all of the guys I know of in the Sq are previous evals/instructors from MWS (1000 PIC to apply min). 2 week interview, 1st week is 'Grip and Grin' Second week is 3 (scheduled) rides in the Dragon Lady. . . some dudes dont make it past the first ride.
SR-71 was line item Vetoed by Clinton. . . no AD flying them

As far as The Dragon being replaced by the Global Chicken, time will tell. . . but I wouldnt hold my breath
The Deuce is an amazing airframe, and I will miss her.
Non-MWS FAIPs fly the U-2

Non-MWS FAIPs fly the U-2. We have a FAIP leaving soon to go fly the U-2.

One of my FAIP T-37 IPs has been fly the U-2 10 years now.
Non-MWS FAIPs fly the U-2. We have a FAIP leaving soon to go fly the U-2.

Holy cow, I thought that was just a joke cruel FAIPs played on each other. When it came time for me to chose my fighter follow-on as a T-38 FAIP, I turned in my dream sheet hoping for a Strike Eagle. We had heard a rumor about FAIPs getting U-2s, but thought it was only rumor. About a week later the squadron commander announces that the assignments are out and pulls me in front of the squadron to make the announcement. He says, "Well, let me just read the letter the Ops Group commander wrote."

Directly from the letter (I've still got it) "I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your selection to be a pilot in the 99 Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Beale AFB. As you are well aware, this opportunity will prove to be a promising career flying the highly sophisticated U-2/TR1. The highly competitive U-2 pilot selection process was highlighted by a field of many outstanding applicants and many difficult decisions."

I didn't believe it until he handed me not only the letter signed by the OG/CC, but orders to report to Beale AFB. Apparently I was the only one in the squadron not in on the joke spearheaded by my roommate and fueled by a couple other FAIPs (they couldn't hold back and broke out laughing right about the time I got done reading my orders in awe). They had typed up the letter and orders as well as a pretty good forgery of the OG/CCs signature.

After the fact, I had assumed that they were the ones who started the rumor about FAIPs getting U-2 just to sweeten up the prank, but apparently not.

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