Back in the 60′s a test program was established to see how US aircraft would/could operate off aircraft carriers.
From Aerospace Web:
The idea started in the late 1950s when the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was looking for a way to overcome the range limitations of the U-2. Possessing a useful range of about 3,000 miles (4,800 km), the U-2 simply could not reach every location of interest to the CIA given the locations of U-2 bases. As a result, the CIA began a cooperative effort with the US Navy known as Project Whale Tale. The purpose of this project was to adapt the U-2 for use aboard aircraft carriers. Testing commenced in August of 1963 when, in the dark of night, a crane lifted a U-2C onto the deck of the USS Kitty Hawk at San Diego, California. The vessel streamed off the coast on the morning of 5 August where Lockheed test pilot Bob Schumacher began flight test operations.
Head on over there to read more about the program. It appeared this capability was used only once to monitor a French nuke test in the south pacific. With the 103 foot wingspan (for comparison, a Tomcat had a 65′ wingspan), you couldn’t have a whole lot of other things on deck, making a carrier a pretty expensive U-2 Mobile Delivery Platform. Plus, even with an empty deck you had *better* be on centerline when landing.
I can imagine the headaches the LSO would have. Those big ol’ long wings creating a ton of lift would create an almost diametrically opposite landing sequence than a normal, conventional Navy tactical aircraft. “Long in the groove and flat” would be the hallmarks of a good approach, it would seem.
When you watch the video, take a look at the wind over deck requirements (by watching the flight deck guys clothes almost being ripped off) to get that thing airborne. That ship musta been haulin’ the mail.
Hat tip to former VF-43 pilot extraordinaire and later F-4 nose-gunner Snively Evans and his son, LCDR Zach Evans for the email.