Spy Plane Pilots Look Like Badass Retro Astronauts

By Sam Biddle on at

Taking a spin in a U-2 spy plane isn't like hopping on a regional trip to grandma's house — pilots cruise at a staggering 21,300 metres. How high is that? High enough to require a spacesuit.

U-2 pilots like these at California's Beale Air Force Base are strapped in to a pressurised suit and begin breathing pure oxygen up to an hour before they even hop in the cockpit. But they're probably in no hurry to don the spectacularly-cool looking duds — totally reminiscent of Mercury-era spacesuits — as they might be up there for over 12 hours. That's a lot of spying. [USAF]