“Take Me to Your Leader” – Miracle at Cortez

THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL STORY ABOUT A CHINESE U-2 PILOT FROM THE DAYS OF THE COLD WAR. utwoThis is a little known, long forgotten, interesting story.  I did not realize we had shared the U-2 with the CHINATS at that early time.

CHINESE U-2 PILOT LANDING AT CORTEZ, CO. Please watch/listen to the end. There are things here worth pondering, and not just for pilots. (Open site below.)


Be sure to see the video of the terrain surrounding the airport in the last 60 sec of the movie.    Cortez Airport:  5900 feet elevation, 7200 feet long, 100 feet wide.

 utwoBThis is aviation history that few know about. Especially the end if you have never landed in Cortez. Mostly in English, but read the English sub-titles when present.

U-2 night flame out at 70,000 feet. A most fascinating story.

JDT Note: I am a pilot. What hit me personally was that this is some of the most unfriendly terrain in the Continental US.

How do I know? A few years back, we lost an engine not far from there, in good weather and in an aircraft with every fuel tank full, loaded to maximum gross, and with my wife on board.

Fortunately, our aircraft, its remaining engine, and God were with us too. We limped back to Evanston, Wyoming: 7143 feet elevation, 7300 feet long, and 100 feet wide. That was in the summer on a hot day, which makes the air thinner, so the “density altitude” was 9,500 feet.

The successful outcome resulted in a good flying story, but I’ll never forget dropping the gear at the last minute on short final, hoping it came down, glancing at the stopped prop, and knowing that we were NOT going around. I cannot imagine doing it at night in a “single,” especially one with such major handling and stability issues.

American exceptionalism and the heroism of those in our military, including our allies, is a large part of what has kept us free. We forget this at our peril. God Bless America.

The “coffin-corner” (the speed margin between when the U-2 came apart from Mach Buffet, and when it stalled and fell uncontrollably out of the sky) was only TEN KNOTS, about 12 MPH.

Flying routinely this close to the edge with a primitive autopilot was dangerous enough, but hand-flying a crippled airplane in turbulence at night with this precision was remarkable. Flying missions like this with nothing but the stars to guide you was all there was, back then.

This is from real life, not a novel. To me, true life stories like this are uplifting.

Sign up for John's Mail lists
Free Newsletters and Action Notes
This entry was posted in Flying, Military and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *