One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Air Force Research Lab engineers from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, last week visited Beale AFB, Calif., to determine how big or small and short or tall a U-2 pilot can be and still function well in the high-flying reconnaissance aircraft’s cockpit. During the May 21-24 visit, the AFRL officials used specialized equipment to measure 16 Beale airmen of varying sizes and heights in an operational U-2 cockpit in pressure suits. “We are trying to push the limits,” said Gregory Zehner, 711th Human Performance Wing senior physical anthropologist from Wright-Patt, in Beale’s May 23 release. He added, “We have to make sure each airman is safe to fly; it’s not just how tall they are, its proportions.” Zehner said the Air Force will use the data to help create “a much overdue baseline” for U-2 pilot selection. Reversing earlier plans, the Air Force now intends to operate the U-2 fleet for decades to come. (Beale report by SrA. Shawn Nickel)