The US Central Command announced today that a U-2 ‘Dragon Lady’ high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, piloted by Major Ryan reached 30,000 hours of flight time in support of CENTCOM operations.

Photo of U-2 Dragon Lady Cockpit by Wikimedia Commons

“It takes a lot of people to launch and recover a jet and to keep this going,” Ryan said. “It’s always been my dream to be an Air Force pilot, so to be a part of something like this is just baffling to me. Today we hit 30,000 hours. I hope it gets 30,000 more.”

Capt. Lacey, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant maintenance operations officer, shared the importance of this achievement.

“The mere fact alone that we’re able to continue flying this aircraft to this day is an achievement in itself, let alone fly 30,000 hours on one aircraft,” Lacey said. “Maintaining the U-2 is often a difficult task requiring maintainers from many specialties. It takes an entire team of skill and dedication to do what these Airmen do every day. They’re so good at what they do; they make it look a lot easier than it actually is. These types of milestones are what make us the best Air Force in the world.” – US Central Command

Watch The View From a U-2 at 70,000 Feet

The U-2 flights are being used in the fight against ISIS. Reaching 30,000 flight hours is amazing on its own but even more interesting is that the airframe on this U-2 is 48 years old according to the release from CENTCOM. In 2016 a U-2 flying with the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron at Osan Air Force Base, Republic of Korea reached the 30,000 hour milestone marking a first for the aircraft.

Featured image of U-2 pilot Maj. Ryan enters into a cockpit before flying a sortie in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Feb. 2, 2017. During the sortie, the aircraft completed 30,000 hours of flight. This marked the second U-2 in the USAF fleet to reach the milestone and the first overall while flying expeditionary missions under Air Force Central Command by U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Tyler Woodward