During the height of the cold war, America employed a small fleet of U2 spy planes to keep tabs on communists all around the world. Equipped with no weapons, just an array of super-powerful cameras, the U2 spy plane could reach altitudes of 70,000+ feet, on the very outer edge of Earth’s atmosphere. As you might imagine, just a handful of pilots qualify for this job, though what you might not know is that the hardest part of the job isn’t taking off; it’s landing.
Because the U2 has such long wings, it requires special wheels mounted at the wingtips to support them during liftoff. But these wheels are jettisoned after take off, making landing the U2 exceedingly difficult. That’s where the chase car videos come in.
The above video shows a U2 landing, being chased by another pilot in a Chevy Camaro. The Camaro driver’s job is to radio the U2 pilot and give him instructions to help land the plane. Without these extra eyes, landing the U2 would be almost impossible. So why a Camaro?
Well quite simply, the ground pilots need to keep up with the landing plane if they hope to give proper landing commentary. Thus they need fast cars, like the 426 horsepower Camaro, that allow them to accelerate in time to chase down the jets. Talk about an awesome job; not only do these guys get to fly space planes, but they get paid to drive down a runway at top speed in a friggin’ Camaro.
Can you think of any other jobs where you might get paid to drive a Camaro at full tilt?