What’s it like to fly on a U2 spy plane, 70,000 feet in the air, at an altitude that reaches 70 degrees below zero? Watch one man capture his once-in-a-lifetime flight at the edge of space.
Christopher Michel is a photographer from San Francisco. While reporting for the U.S. Naval Institute on the U2 Spy plane, which was first designed by Kelly Johnson in the 1950s, Christopher was lucky enough to be able to ride in a U2 himself. He flew with Lt. Colonel Joe Santucci that day, a veteran pilot who was highly experienced in flying an aircraft like this.
Both Christopher and the Lt. Colonel had to go through extensive medical exams and have their space suits pressure tested before take off so their core temperatures didn’t rise too fast. But the preparations were totally worth it. The flight was unlike any other Christopher had ever experienced. After take off he didn’t feel nervous or nauseous, he only felt pure wonder and amazement.
Christopher’s favorite part of the flight was when Santucci suggested they turn down the air traffic control and the cockpit suddenly became completely silent. At 70,000 feet he saw the pitch blackness above and the glowing blue earth below, immersed in silence. He was in complete awe, and it was all over much too soon.
When they landed back on earth safely, Christopher realized that one of the best moments of his entire life had just ended. He’s certain he’ll never have an experience like it again.