Do pilots need special training to land Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft as its body is too shallow and is a wide wing aircraft?


All military pilots will receive special training when learning to fly a new aircraft, whether that is in a simulator, a 2 seater version of the same aircraft, or both. An F-16 pilot is not going to fly a F-15 without considerable training. Training is recommended even for light aircraft as well when learning a new model.

If you are asking whether the U2 is harder to land than many other airplanes then yes, the U2 is a very challenging aircraft to land because of it's shape, but also because the pilot can see very little of the runway. In fact the procedure for landing a U2 calls for a vehicle to speed down the runway behind it with another U2 pilot in it to talk the flying pilot down.

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    $\begingroup$ Good answer. There are several other considerations making the U-2 extremely hard to land compared to other craft. First, the wings produce a lot of lift, necessary to sustain flight at such a high ceiling. This produces a substantial "ground effect" where a cushion of air between the wings and ground makes touchdown difficult. In addition, the plane has bicycle landing gear and takes off with the aid of wingtip "pogo skis" that are jettisoned after takeoff, so the pilot must keep the plane very level on landing to avoid digging in a wingtip. $\endgroup$ – KeithS Jun 25 '15 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ Lastly, the wide, straight wings reduce the speed range of the craft; too slow and you stall, too fast and you'll rip the wings off (especially at low altitude in the thicker air), so managing your glide slope is that much trickier. $\endgroup$ – KeithS Jun 25 '15 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ Is landing the U2 much different than landing a sailplane? Aside from the visibility, of course. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 25 '15 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ The U2 isn't much more than a jet-powered pressurized glider with some really expensive camera equipment aboard. It has a higher mass, so it needs a longer rollout than a sailplane, and a mistake would be more damaging as the sailplane would likely have a better strength-to-weight ratio on the wing spar (they're built for aerobatics, while the U-2's airframe likely wouldn't handle a barrel roll). $\endgroup$ – KeithS Jun 25 '15 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ @KeithS - while pilots of course try to land as level as possible, the U-2 is designed to take wing strikes almost every time (and from what I've heard, usually does) with reinforced tips $\endgroup$ – SSumner Jun 27 '15 at 3:26

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