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U-2 SPYPLANES : What You Didn't Know About Them !

by David Reade - P-3 Publications

U-2 Typhoon Flights

On 14 November 1957, a U-2 Spyplane over-flew the top of Typhoon Kitt, in the western Pacific Ocean, just north of the Philippine island of Luzon. The aircraft photographed the typhoon's cloud formations and inner eye dynamics from high altitude - looking straight down from approximately 65,000 feet. This U-2 flight produced the very first high-altitude, high-resolution images of the upper tropopause region of a tropical cyclone.

Between 14-16 July 1958, a number of additional U-2 over-flights were conducted into Super Typhoon Winnie off the coast of Formosa - now Taiwan.

Winnie had developed into a particularly powerful typhoon with winds in excess of 175 mph, striking the western most end the island of Taiwan, causing severe damage. The storm continued on across the Formosa Strait and impacted the southeast coast of mainland China.

Later in September (1958), additional U-2 flights were flown over the tops of Super Typhoons Ida and Helen - photographing spectacular cloud features and structures, looking down into the storms eyes from the lower Stratosphere.

These early Pacific typhoon U-2 over-flights were actually flown by the CIA's "Detachment C" (under a fake cover designation as the USAF's 3rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron - Provisional) publicly stated to be supporting AF AWS typhoon research based at NAS Atsugi, Japan. The typhoon flights helped in an effort to bolstering their "weather reconnaissance" cover story, while providing area tactical reconnaissance coverage of the Region. Including the "Offshore Island Crisis", an armed confrontation between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan's Nationalists Chinese - in the summer of 1958.

(In August 1958, the PRC began shelling off shore Taiwan island, with US concerns that the mainland Chinese would invade Taiwan. As these tensions heated up, CIA U-2 began over-flights of the region to monitor PRC troop movements and naval operations. The CIA used the weather reconnaissance flights of Typhoons as a cover story in the media.)

Click to enlarge
U-2 high-altitude photo of Super Typhoon Ida's central eye photographed by a CIA, U-2 aircraft approximately 750 miles northeast of the Philippines, in September 1958. This powerful storm had winds of 185 mph (with gusts over 200 mph) and had the lowest central barometric pressure, 877mb, ever recorded in the Pacific Ocean up until that time
Click to enlarge
U-2 high-altitude photo of Super Typhoon Kit photographed by a CIA U-2 aircraft on 14 Nov 1957, when the storm was just north of Luzon, the Philippines - CIA photos via the American Meteorological Society & US Weather Bureau (courtesy the National Hurricane Center)


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