Hobby Master HA6905 NASA Lockheed ER-2 High Altitude Research Aircraft - "809", Dryden Flight Research Center, California, 1999 (1:72 Scale)
"First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."
- Excerpted from President John F. Kennedy's speech delivered before a joint session of Congress, May 25th, 1961
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is an American single-jet engine, high altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It provides day and night, high-altitude (70,000 feet, 21,300 meters), all-weather intelligence gathering.
Lockheed Corporation originally proposed it in 1953, it was approved in 1954, and its first test flight was in 1955. It was flown during the Cold War over the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, and Cuba. In 1960, Gary Powers was shot down in a CIA U-2A over the Soviet Union by a surface-to-air missile (SAM). Major Rudolf Anderson Jr. was shot down in a U-2 during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
U-2s have taken part in post-Cold War conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and supported several multinational NATO operations. The U-2 has also been used for electronic sensor research, satellite calibration, scientific research, and communications purposes. The U-2 is one of a handful of aircraft types to have served the USAF for over 50 years, along with the Boeing B-52 and Boeing KC-135. The newest models (TR-1, U-2R, U-2S) entered service in the 1980s, and the latest model, the U-2S, had a technical upgrade in 2012.
A derivative of the U-2 known as the ER-2 (Earth Resources 2), in NASA's white livery, is based at the Dryden Flight Research Center (now Armstrong Flight Research Center) and is used for high-altitude civilian research including Earth resources, celestial observations, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, and oceanic processes. Programs using the aircraft include the Airborne Science Program, ERAST and Earth Science Enterprise. Landings are assisted by another pilot at speeds exceeding 120 miles per hour (190 km/h) in a chase car.
Pictured here is a gorgeous 1:72 scale diecast replica of a NASA Lockheed ER-2 High Altitude Research Aircraft then deployed to Dryden Flight Research Center, California, during 1999.
Pre-order! Ship Date: November 2021.
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Historical Account: "In Honorarium" - The NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) is an aeronautical research center operated by NASA. Its primary campus is located inside Edwards Air Force Base in California and is considered NASA's premier site for aeronautical research. AFRC operates some of the most advanced aircraft in the world and is known for many aviation firsts, including critical support for the first crewed airplane to exceed the speed of sound in level flight with the Bell X-1, highest speed ever recorded by a crewed, powered aircraft (North American X-15), the first pure digital fly-by-wire aircraft (F-8 DFBW), and many others. AFRC also operates a second site in Palmdale, Ca. known as Building 703, once the former Rockwell International/North American Aviation production facility, next to Air Force Plant 42. There, AFRC houses and operates several of NASA's Science Mission Directorate aircraft including SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy), a DC-8 Flying Laboratory, a Gulfstream C-20A UAVSAR and ER-2 High Altitude Platform. David McBride is currently the center's director.
On March 1st, 2014, the facility was renamed in honor of Neil Armstrong, a former test pilot at the center and the first human being to walk on the surface of the Moon. The center was previously known as the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) from March 26th, 1976, in honor of Hugh L. Dryden, a prominent aeronautical engineer who at the time of his death in 1965 was NASA's deputy administrator. It has also previously been known as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Muroc Flight Test Unit (1946), the NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station (1949), the NACA High-Speed Flight Station (1954), the NASA High-Speed Flight Station (1958) and the NASA Flight Research Center (1959).
AFRC was also the home of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), a modified Boeing 747 designed to carry a Space Shuttle orbiter back to Kennedy Space Center if one landed at Edwards.
Until 2004, Armstrong Flight Research Center operated the oldest B-52 Stratofortress bomber, a B-52B model (tail number 008) which had been converted to drop test aircraft, dubbed 'Balls 8.' It dropped many supersonic test vehicles, ranging from the X-15 to its last research program, the hypersonic X-43A, powered by a Pegasus rocket. The aircraft was retired and is currently on display near the North Gate of Edwards