The Lockheed U-2 spy plane is no easy plane to pilot—especially during takeoff and landings.
This is because the plane is extremely sensitive to crosswinds and has a tendency to lift even when the spoilers and flaps are set for descent. The latter forces the pilot to stall the plane to get it on the ground.
As a result, the United States Air Force uses chase cars to help pilots manage smooth takeoff and landings and ensure nothing goes awry. The duty has gone to a handful of different cars over the decades that the U-2 has been in use, but now it seems the Air Force has chosen the Tesla Model S.
New video from a recent U-2 landing shows a white Tesla Model S performing chase car duties. Its task is simple, yet ever important: mash the throttle as soon as the spy plane is ahead and call out altitude and wing altitude over the radio. The information is crucial to ensure spoilers and flaps are deployed or disengaged at the right time for a safe takeoff or landing. So, in layman’s terms, it’s the coolest job in the world: chase spy planes down a runway.
Previously, the USAF used Pontiac G8 GTs as chase cars, but it’s also used Chevrolet Camaros, Pontiac GTOs and various other quick-accelerating machines. Maybe the Air Force decided to go green this time around? It’s unclear what variant of Model S is being used by the Air Force, though it’s a safe bet it picked the quickest of the bunch: the P100D.