A Delta Air Lines pilot has pivoted from commercial to back to military and is now flying the U-2 spy plane, one of the most exclusive airplanes in the world.
We love flying vintage aircraft at Live and Let’s Fly, but the Lockheed U-2 takes things to a whole other level. It first took the air in 1955 and continues to fly for the United States Air Force 65 years later. Over that history, only about 1,500 pilots have flown it. It is known as the most difficult aircraft in the world to fly and cruises at 70,000 feet, twice the altitude of commercial jet.
Major Jeffrey Anderson was a reservist for the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, just north of Sacramento, California. He also was a Delta Air Lines pilot. But he recently took the call to return to active duty.
Speaking to Business Insider, Anderson said:
“I applied for the U-2 program while in active duty, and then switched to the reserves. The last two years I’ve been flying for Delta Air Lines and then I took a two year break and now I’m back flying the U-2.”
Flying The U-2 “Dragon Lady”
Anderson makes history as the first Air Force reservist to fly the U-2, also known as the Dragon Lady. The U-2 is a single-seat, single-engine aircraft. While he no regrets leaving active duty and joining the reserves two years ago, he could not turn down the opportunity to return and fly this exclusive jet.
“Two and a half years ago when I flew my last mission. I’ve flown so long and reflected back on my time flying. It was the right decision for my family to commit to the reserves and didn’t have a slight thought of being back here. Now, I get the chance to support this impressive mission and this is truly amazing.”
Unmentioned: with only two years of seniority at Delta, it probably was a very good time to leave Delta and return to active duty.
We hear a lot about ex-military officers flying for commercial airlines, but it is rare that a commercial pilot returns to active duty. But with the commercial airline industry in turmoil and a chance to fly the U-2, I don’t think the choice was very hard for Anderson.