U2 Spy Plane Photography

The U-2 is a single-jet engine, ultra-high altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), used to provides high-altitude (70,000 feet), all-weather intelligence gathering. WSJ journalist Michael Phillips was fortunate enough to tour both the U-2 as well as the film processing lab at Beale Air Force Base in California. Any photos, which are shot on 250-pound rolls containing 10,500 feet of 6-inch-wide film, captured with the wet-plate camera onboard is transported by FedEx back to the base in California to be developed. Continue reading for another video and more information.

“The 1950s camera, combined with the U-2’s altitude, provides formidable photo capabilities: it can cover every inch of an entire country in a single mission. Photographing nearly all of California takes just four hours, and the planes are used to photograph the entirety of Afghanistan about once every month. Using loupes and microscopes, analysts can distinguish objects in the resulting photos that are just 8 inches apart on the ground – enough resolution to read the numbers on the wings of a parked airplane,” reports Peta Pixel.