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Remembering the Dragon Lady: The U-2 Spy Plane: Memoirs of the Men Who Made the Legend [Kindle Edition]

Gerald McIlmoyle , Linda Rios Bromley
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

With heightened tensions mounting in the Cold War, President Dwight Eisenhower's request for more accurate intelligence information on the Soviet Union was the spark that ignited the U-2 project. Modified USAF bombers began overflights of the Soviet Union in 1951, but existing lower flying aircraft in the US inventory were vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire and a number of cross-border flights were shot down.

To meet the challenge and improve the survivability, the Lockheed Corporation received approval for their revolutionary design of a new recon aircraft on December 9, 1954. The company began work under a heavy veil of secrecy with only 81 people, including 25 engineers. A test pilot flew the first flight on August 1, 1955, after only eight months of production, a record-breaking result for rollout of a new project, especially one this complex and innovative. A dedicated and inventive group of contractors came together to support the project with partial pressure suits for pilots, high-resolution cameras, and an engine that could carry the aircraft to altitudes of 70,000 feet and higher.

Nicknamed the Dragon Lady, the U-2 has flown over Cuba, Alaska, North and South poles, Vietnam, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, and Afghanistan. The U-2 is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago. More recently it flew over the hurricane ravaged US Gulf Coast to collect imagery of the destruction over a 90,000 square mile area.

First-person memoirs of many of the men who supported the early US spy plane project are included in this book. They include pilots, maintenance specialists, a flight surgeon, photographic specialists and some family members. The US also trained U-2 pilots from Taiwan and the UK and some of their photos and memoirs are in this collection.

An example of the entries in the book include one pilot's experience on a flight over the North Pole when he discovered his instrumentation was inaccurate due to the magnetic fields and realized almost too late that he was flying directly toward the Soviet Union. Maintenance technicians recalled working long hours to prepare aircraft for historic flights over Cuba. Photographic specialists remembered the difficult conditions in Vietnam, and the care required to download the exposed film of North Vietnamese targets from the cameras in the aircraft. All of these experiences were achieved under Top Secret security conditions and on a "need to know" basis.

'Remembering the Dragon Lady' presents the reader with an impressive collection of U-2 first-person recollections.

Product Description


First-person memoirs of many of the men who supported the early US spy plane project are included in this remarkable book ... For years, these tales were listed as 'Top Secret' on a 'need to know' basis. As a fan of the U-2, it was a case of 'I'd like to know more'. Well, at last, this book fills in many of the missing gaps from Cold War U-2 operations. --Airfix Model World magazine

Remembering the Dragon Lady is a superb book on the dramatic history of this marvelous airplane. A product of Kelly Johnson's Skunk Works, the U-2 was acclaimed by him as one of the very high points of his engineering career. As a pilot of the U-2 for over nine years, I can attest to its challenges and rewards. I entered the program when it first came into the USAF inventory and drew immense pleasure and pride from mastering this difficult but rewarding plane and accomplishing the mission for which it was created. Readers will find this book an exciting and educational volume. --Patrick J. Halloran, Maj. Gen. (Ret.), USAF

First-person memoirs feature prominently in this book. These include pilots, engineers, photographic specialists and family members. Photos and memoirs from US-trained British U-2 pilots are also included in this absorbing examination of the legendary military aircraft. --FlyPast

About the Author

Gerald E. (Jerry) McIlmoyle enlisted in the US Air Force and began his pilot training in November 1951. Graduating in December 1952, he flew F-86s in Korea. Next he became a flight commander and then assistant operations officer. Recruited into the U-2 program in 1957, he was an instructor pilot and standardization pilot; he logged 1319 hours U-2 pilot time. Subsequently he was a future plans officer in SAC, then in the Pentagon and subsequently the Director of the Joint Personnel Recovery Center in Southeast Asia. He was the SAC Intelligence Director of Reconnaissance during the Vietnam War. Jerry was then assigned as a Squadron Commander, Director of Operations, Base Commander, Vice Wing Commander and Wing Commander. Promoted to Brigadier General, he became SAC Plans and Policy Director, and JCS Deputy Director of Operations. His awards include DSM, 2-LOM, 2-DFC, Bronze Star, 3-AM, Command Pilot and Command Missiler. Retiring from the AF in 1981, he completed the University of VA CPA program. He is married to Patricia Ruth McBrien; they had five offspring, four living, seven grandchildren and one great granddaughter. They reside in Venice, Florida and his current focus in life is charitable work and family.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 9223 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Helion (19 Jan. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0072L0ERO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #547,271 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great present for the enthusiast 13 Jan. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a present for a plane enthusiast. Everything went like clockwork, I loved the price, the book was delivered on time, he loved the book. Job done!
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dragon Lady 12 Aug. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not what I was expecting - quite alot of this book is just peoples storied fo how they got to join the squadrons that flew the U" I thopugh t it would be a history of the U2 and its missions not a collection on old pilots reminising - needed a good editor to pull it in to shape
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Dad's plane 26 Dec. 2012
By AZChrist - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My Dad was killed in his F-4 in 1970 during his 2nd tour in Vietnam. Prior to F-4's he flew the U-2. This book includes 3 mentions of my Dad and other buddies of his era. 2 confirmed UFO sightings by fighter pilots over Alaska was actually my Dad and his U-2. This book brings to light many facts about the U-2 that the brave men who flew them couldn't tell back then even to their wives. Fills a lot of holes in my Dad's USAF history for my Mom, my bother and sister as well as for me and for everyone else who has wondered about the U-2.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An important book, but not U-2 101 14 Nov. 2012
By M. Howells - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For anyone wanting a general introduction to the U-2, this is not it. What this book is, rather, is a series of accounts written by dozens of individuals associated with the U-2 program over its long lifetime, from pilots and mechanics on down to civilian tech reps from government contractors. As a result there is a degree of familiarity used by the authors that may be confusing or opaque to a reader who does not already possess a moderate level of knowledge about military life, the Cold War, and the U-2 itself.

There are a lot of anecdotes contained in this book; some what I would call chapter-length while others are only a paragraph or two. This makes for uneven reading in places. Some, naturally, are better-written and more interesting than others. The book is organized into sections according to the role the authors played relative to the plane. Pilots are grouped together, then photo technicians, then mechanics, etc. Most anecdotes take place in the 1960s, from the Cuban Missile Crisis and on into Vietnam. It appears as though the book has been updated recently, with accounts included that were written and submitted in the last few years. As you go through the book it is interesting to come across different accounts of the same events and see how people in different roles perceived the same missions and personnel.

I feel like this is an important book and I'm glad it was put together, but as I state in the title, it is not at all a primer or even a general history on the U-2 or the Skunk Works program. This is worth reading, but not first.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Job 4 Aug. 2012
By Ed Adams - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a great book that truly captures the impacts of the U-2 spy plane in support of the US Government. In the book many of the pilots and crew-members talk about flying the aircraft at Edwards AFB, CA. We currently fly a highly advanced unmanned aircraft off the same runway. How times have changed...
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SAC 15 July 2012
By John Spraberry - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was in SAC when Gary Powers was shot down. Our base was visited by U-2s, as we had a unit that developed a lot of their photographs. It was a flashback to relive the critical times when this plane and its pilots saved us from possible nuclear war.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Human Side of an Iconic Machine 22 Dec. 2013
By Stan - Published on
Thoroughly enjoyed it. What's not to love about the true-to-life history of a Spy-plane told through those who knew her best? The story of the U2 is told through first-person reminiscences, covering from the early days of development, through the shoot-down of Francis Gary Powers, its service in Viet Nam, South America, Alaska and more.

The writer gives us so many interesting personal insights and antidotes that you get a better feel for the planes and their teams than the ordinary views into the events that make up our nation's history.

I see the stories as "unvarnished recollections" rather than "unpolished." The characters telling the story would have seemed less real had the remembrances been highly structured and polished to a high sheen.
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