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‘MythBusters’ take on U-2 at Beale

Jamie Hyneman, left, and Adam Savage visited Beale Air Force Base in June 2014 to film an episode of Mythbusters. The episode airs at 5 p.m. Saturday on the Discovery Channel.
Courtesy The Discovery Channel |

On the air

What: MythBusters “Flights of Fancy”

When: 8 p.m., Saturday

Where: Discovery Channel

Trailer: http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/videos/flights-of-fantasy-trailer

Is the U-2 the most difficult airplane in the world to fly and land?

The “MythBusters” — Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman — visited Beale Air Force Base and the 9th Reconnaissance Wing in June 2014 to find out. A year later, their conclusion is about to be revealed.

The “Flights of Fancy” episode of “MythBusters” airs at 8 p.m. Saturday on the Discovery Channel, and viewers can tune in to watch Savage and Hyneman “uncover every detail of this high altitude marvel of aviation history before taking a flight to the very edge of space,” according to the episode description.

The show airs just before the 60th anniversary of the very first flight of the U-2 on Aug. 1.

Savage and Hyneman spent four days at the base going through health evaluations, safety training and spending time in an altitude chamber, said Capt. Rachel Acosta of the Air Force Public Affairs/Entertainment Liaison Office.

“We always look forward to any opportunity to educate and inform the United States public about the Air Force, what we do and the missions we take part in,” Acosta said. “And the U-2 is such a neat aircraft.”

The flight the MythBusters took was a standard U-2 high flight, exceeding 70,000 feet, said Senior Airman Robert Cummings, public affairs specialist with the 9th.

A trailer for the episode shows Savage riding in the U-2 trainer with Hyneman in the chase car and includes shots of Savage marveling at the horsepower during takeoff and views from high above Earth’s surface.

Procedures for taking off and landing are parts of the unique culture of the U-2. With only one wheel centered under the aircraft, they require another U-2 pilot in a chase car giving constant feedback to the pilot in the cockpit about the plane’s height and whether wings are level.

“Due to limited visibility, bicycle landing gear and the fact that the aircraft is more of a glider, all those factors are why they say that it is the most difficult aircraft to land,” Cummings said.

Whether the MtythBusters crew agrees will be seen Saturday.

Kirk Barron is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat.

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