A Q&A with FANG


I had the chance to talk to U-2 Pilot "FANG" about his air force career recently, here is what he had to say...

1) What made you want to join the air force?                                                                                       

FANG: By the time I had joined the air force I had accumulated a couple-thousand flight hours in civilian aircraft and Army helicopters which included 1000 hours of combat time in Vietnam as a CH-47 Chinook pilot. I finished my last year of college while giving flight instructions at a very large flight school and during that time Gary Powers' book  "Operation Overflight" concerning his shoot-down while flying a U-2. Only a very select few pilots in the CIA and AF flew the Dragon Lady and I set my sights on being one of them. So, I went into AF pilot training and selected the Strategic Air Command (SAC), which flew KC-135 tankers and B-52 bombers as well as the U-2, to get a chance at flying the Dragon Lady. After 4 years of proving myself as a tanker Aircraft Commander, Flight Instructor and Flight Evaluator, I applied to the U-2 Program and was accepted for an interview.

2) What is your favourite moment/experience you've had flying?                                                      

FANG: My favourite moment in my flying career was being accepted into the U-2 program after a two week interview and three flights in the Dragon Lady trainer. My favourite in-flight memory was soloing the Lady for the first time.

3) What is the worst moment/experience you've had flying?                                                           

FANG: My worst moments inflight occurred in Vietnam when our Chinook would be shot up by enemy ground fire (it was a BIG target!), at times injuring or killing flight crewmembers, followed closely by my flying a U-2 mission with a bad head cold, resulting in painfully rupturing both my eardrums during descent.

4) What is your favourite aircraft and why?                                                                                          

FANG: The U-2 Dragon Lady! By far, she was the most demanding, challenging and downright dangerous operational aircraft in existence. The pilots either learned to "Dance with the Lady" or "Fight the Dragon" and each aircraft had her own unique personality to learn. But, being able to fly at the edge of space, where the only humans higher were in the space station and watching day turn into night at high-noon made it all worth it!

5) Did you prefer the chase car or the jet?                                                                                           

FANG: Driving the mobile chase vehicle was fun, but any Dragon Lady pilot would rather be in the air!

Again, I hoped you enjoyed reading this Q&A! Its an honour to be able to talk to pilots from past and present and from many different aircraft around the world!