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U-2 Pilot Application

FILE PHOTO -- The U-2 is a single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude, reconnaissance aircraft. Long, wide, straight wings give the U-2 glider-like characteristics. It can carry a variety of sensors and cameras, is an extremely reliable reconnaissance aircraft, and enjoys a high mission completion rate. Because of its high altitude mission, the pilot must wear a full pressure suit. The U-2 is capable of collecting multi-sensor photo, electro-optic, infrared and radar imagery, as well as performing other types of reconnaissance functions. However, the aircraft can be a difficult aircraft to fly due to its unusual landing characteristics. (Air Force photo)

FILE PHOTO -- The U-2 is a single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude, reconnaissance aircraft. Long, wide, straight wings give the U-2 glider-like characteristics. It can carry a variety of sensors and cameras, is an extremely reliable reconnaissance aircraft, and enjoys a high mission completion rate. Because of its high altitude mission, the pilot must wear a full pressure suit. The U-2 is capable of collecting multi-sensor photo, electro-optic, infrared and radar imagery, as well as performing other types of reconnaissance functions. However, the aircraft can be a difficult aircraft to fly due to its unusual landing characteristics. (Air Force photo)


The 9th Reconnaissance Wing is looking for a few officers with the professionalism and flying skills necessary to pilot the U-2 "Dragonlady", and provide our nation's decision-makers with critical high-altitude Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.

U-2 pilots come from every military flying background - fighters, bombers, tankers, transports, trainers - and include inter-service transfer officers from the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. We exercise close control over the application and acceptance process, which leads to a highly qualified and very tight-knit group of aviators.

Those selected for an interview generally possess a strong flight evaluation history, strong performance evaluations, and exceed the minimum flight experience requirements. Because the U-2 does not meet military specifications for handling qualities, those selected for an interview must pass a demanding three-sortie profile in the two-seat U-2 to determine their suitability for training.

U-2 training lasts about 9 months, and includes a checkout in the T-38 Talon. Typical line pilots alternate between two months TDY flying operational missions and two months back at Beale for continuation training.


 Opportunities for IST are extremely limited,
 The Air Staff is not allowing any ANG or AFR pilots to come on active duty.
 AFPC will not allow us to interview any fighter/bomber coded pilots for the time being.


 Possess at least 1200 rated hours (Notes: RMQ-1/9 Reaper time may be used to partially satisfy minimum rated hours. Do Not include pilot training or civilian time)

- Or -

 800 rated hours in trainer aircraft such as T-1, T-6, T-34, T-37, T-38, T-45, etc

- Or -

 500 hours in fighters

- And -

 Possess at least 500 hours in fixed wing, non-RPA, aircraft

- And -

 Possess 12 months or 400 hours as pilot-in-command in primary mission aircraft

You must also have an SCI/SBI or the capability to obtain one


Before submitting an application, contact us at:
U-2 Recruiting office DSN 368-4447, Commercial (530) 634-4447, or e-mail: U2/recruiting@beale.af.mil.
Call or email with any questions or comments on the U-2 application and hiring process.

(Contact the U-2 Recruiting office for sample templates. Additional information will NOT be considered)

 Letter of Recommendation from your Wing Commander or equivalent. (Navy/Marine: omit this step until after we have reviewed the rest of your application) Need only include:

· Wing/CC support of U-2 application, and any kind words on your behalf
· Date available to PCS

 Interview Package Synopsis
 Letter: I would like to fly the U-2 because... (Explain why you want to fly the U-2 and why you would be an asset to this program. 1-3 paragraphs will normally suffice).
 Official Photo (Torso, Color or Black and White, 5 x 7 or larger)
 ADP Assignment Preference Worksheet (Navy/Marine: N/A)
 1 Page Officer SURF (Navy/Marine: Page 2 / Master Brief Sheet)
 Flying History Report (Navy/Marine: N/A)
 "Anthropometric data" - a Standard Form 88, Standard Form 600, or just a memo from Flight Medicine listing your:

· standing height
· sitting height
· buttocks-to-knee length

 Individual Fitness Test Summary; usually more than 1 page (Navy/Marine: results of Physical Readiness Tests / Physical Fitness Tests)

· Include a written explanation of any failed Fitness Test and the remedial action

 Copies of all OPRs and any AF Form 475 (Navy/Marine: Fitness Reports and Education and training report)
 Copy of AF Form 942. Highlight all downgrades, discrepancies, re-training or failed evaluations in yellow, as well as commendable and EQ's. (Navy/Marine: extract data from NATOPS Flight Personnel Training/Qualification Jacket, OPNAV 3760/32E and G. Please transcribe into AF 942 Format).
 Copy of all AF Form 8's to include reverse sides. Highlight all downgrades, discrepancies, re-training or failed evaluations in yellow. (Navy/Marine: NATOPS Evaluation Report, OPNAV 3710/7,2 (Formerly OPNAV 3510/8)
 IST candidates include a Service Record Summary.


ATTN: Director of U-2 Recruiting
19351 McGregor Street Room 304
Beale AFB, CA 95903-1224

Do not punch holes in or staple any of these documents! Just send them to us in a neat stack. We will arrange them in our desired format. You gain no style points for sending us fancy folders and custom lettering. Just send us what we have asked for.
If you want to send your application via US Postal Service, send it only via first class mail. Do NOT use "delivery confirmation", "registered", "express", or any other method that would require a signature. If you want to send it "overnight", or any other method other than plain first class, you need to use UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.... but NOT the US Postal Service. Make a copy of everything for your records before you send it. Good Luck!


If selected for an interview, you will come to Beale TDY for approx 10-14 days. The first week consists of interviews with squadron and group leadership, mission orientation, mobile rides, flight physical, egress training, and many hours briefing for your interview U-2 sorties. This is an opportunity to see first-hand the unique difficulties associated with flying the aircraft and working in a pressure suit environment. At the end of the first week, a determination will be made as to whether you will progress to week 2. If so, the second week consists of three Acceptance Flight Sorties (AF-1, 2 & 3). AF-1 is 2.5 hours, consisting of flight characteristics maneuvers, descent for an ILS, then multiple normal VFR patterns/landings. AF-2 is a 2.5 hour pattern-only sortie that consists of an instrument approach, followed by normal, no-flap, and simulated flameout (SFO) patterns/landings. AF-3 is a 2.0 hour sortie, nearly identical to AF-2. However, the pilot that drove the mobile chase car on AF-1 & 2 will fly the sortie, and the other pilot will mobile. At the end of this sortie, a determination will be made as to whether or not you will be offered a U-2 assignment.


What's my first step if I'm considering the U-2 program?

CONTACT US! DSN 368-4447, or email. There's a lot of info you need to get from us, not from well-meaning friends or commanders who think they know the real story on a U-2 assignment. Concerned about promotions, TDY, remotes, etc...? We'll tell you how it is. The info you get from your buddies is probably loaded with inaccuracies. So, pick up the phone and call us with your questions. It is not a bother; it's important that you have all the facts. If we don't answer, leave a message, but E-Mail is probably the best way to contact one of the recruiters.

When should I apply?

You should call us about 12 months out, and we'd like to have your application in hand NLT 8 months prior to when you want to (or must) PCS. The 8 month timeline helps us with scheduling interviews and filling class dates, but if you cannot submit by then, call and talk to us, we can expedite applications to try and meet your compressed timeline. If you don't meet the minimum experience requirements, but are close, we will probably have you send the application anyway. CALL US! We can begin to process your application and work with AFPC on getting a release for you to interview. You can always send us updates to the package when you get a new OPR, Form 8, etc...

My current weapon system or airframe is undermanned or "frozen", can I gain a release to fly the U-2?

It depends. Contact your AFPC assignments rep and discuss your desire to fly the U-2. When we receive your application, we will contact the ISR Assignments guy to obtain a "release" before we invite you to the interview. If they do not release you, we cannot interview you.

I heard the U-2 may retire soon. How long will it be flying?

I heard the same thing 20 years ago. Right now the U-2 is funded through 2016, and could continue until 2025, or longer. The airframe will last until approximately 2050 at current utilization rates. While the original "Deuce" was designed in the 1950's, the modern U-2 is outfitted with state-of-the-art sensors and equipment, making it the most effective and least expensive tool for the job. There is plenty of time left for a very rewarding career in flying the U-2!

Once you become a U-2 pilot, will you ever be released to another assignment?

Yes, many pilots have been released to school, staff, or other airframes. However, most pilots find the challenging mission to be very rewarding and, and therefore elect to remain in the U-2 community.

I'm a Navy/Marine/Coast Guard pilot and I want to pursue an Inter-service Transfer (IST) to the USAF to fly the U-2. How do I proceed?

First, you need to call the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC; the equivalent of the Navy's BUPERS). They will tell you if you are eligible for an IST. email AFPC.Recall.ops@Randolph.af.mil; Subj: U-2 Applicant (your last name): They do not control U-2 assignments; they look purely at whether you meet the USAF's criteria for an IST. After you talk to AFPC, call us at DSN 368-4447.

I'm a Reserve/Air National Guard pilot and I want to join the active duty USAF to fly the U-2. How do I proceed?

Currently, the Air Staff is not allowing any transfers. But this policy is subject to change without warning. Just like an IST candidate, you need to call the Air Force Personnel Center. They will tell you if you are eligible. email AFPC.Recall.ops@Randolph.af.mil; Subj: U-2 Applicant (your last name) . They do not control U-2 assignments; they look purely at whether you meet the USAF's criteria to switch to active duty. After you talk to AFPC, call me at DSN 368-4447.

If I don't pass the interview, when can I reapply?

If you accomplish the flying portion of the U-2 interview, but are not accepted into the U-2 program, we will not interview you again in the future. Basically, you get one shot. If you don't think you're ready, then give yourself some more time to gain more flying experience.

How long is training?

About 10 months. First, you spend about 3 months in-processing and qualifying in the T-38. Then, you go through the 22-sortie U-2 syllabus, which includes Basic Qual and Mission Qual prior to your first deployment.

What's the TDY rate?

Currently, most new pilots are on the road for about 200 days per year. You are usually deployed for 60-75 days per trip. Our locations are the Middle East, Korea, and Cyprus.

Are there any remotes?

Yes, there are 1-year remotes, and they are competitive. The six remote assignments are Commander and DO positions at Forward Operating Locations.

I didn't fly the T-38 in UPT. Can I still come fly the U-2?

Absolutely! 75% of the U-2 pilot cadre did not fly the T-38 during UPT.
I am or was a T-38 Instructor Pilot. Will I maintain or re-qualify as an IP?
Depending on the needs of the 99 RS, you will almost undoubtedly serve as a T-38 Instructor. Several of our prior T-38 IP's and FAIPs served as instructors while waiting for their U-2 class start date.

How much will I fly?

As a newly qualified U-2 pilot at Beale (i.e. between deployments), expect to fly the U-2 about once per week, and the T-38 about twice per week. On the road, you will fly an operational sortie every 4-6 days. These last 6-12 hours, depending on the mission.

I did not complete a formal course of training due to deficiencies. Will I be considered?

You need to call and discuss it with us to see if you have a reasonable chance of getting an interview. All circumstances are different, but this obviously makes it difficult to make the final cut.

I'm an O-5. Can I still apply?

Yes, however we hire very few O-5's. It depends on the current demographics of the pilot community, so call us first. As a general rule, we like to hire pilots with less than 14 years of commissioned service. Bottom line: call us.

I'm passed over. Will I be considered?

If you're passed over, but not Active Duty USAF, you won't be eligible to come onto active duty. If you're an active duty Captain who is passed over to Major, it is unlikely we will consider your application. If you're an active duty Major passed over to Lt Col, your chances are much higher that we will favorably consider your application. Call us.

I was involved in a mishap. Do you need that information?

Yes, we need a narrative on any class A, B, or C mishap you have been involved in.

How does UAV time count toward total and PIC time for an application?

UAV time will be considered on a case by case basis, based on previous aircraft time and experience. Bottom Line, if you are interested: CALL US.

When are the Application Review Boards?

There are no scheduled boards, they are conducted on an as needed basis. We will review your application as soon as it arrives and will notify you of our decision within 2-6 weeks.

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