SUTTER COUNTY (CBS13) – A former U-2 pilot who flew the aircraft in the 1950s and 60s is speaking out about the crash of a U-2 training aircraft in the Sutter Buttes Tuesday morning.
Retired Air Force pilot Lt. Col. Tony Bevacqua was asked to be part of the secret spy program and made his first flight over Area 51 in Nevada in 1957.
Bevacqua says the plane that went down this morning was a lot different in some ways than the early U2’s.
There were no trainers back then and he says his model “A” had no ejection seats.
“We did have a lot of problems at first, they had to fix them as we went along, we lost people there,” Bevacqua said.
But like the current aircraft, Bevacqua flew at altitudes of more than 70,000 feet.
He wouldn’t say more about that aspect because even though the aircraft today is a different model, he says it’s still a spy plane.
“It’s just hard for me to fathom as to what was the cause to which they would have to eject,” Bevacqua said.
He says the investigation will be helped if the pilots were able to do one thing before the aircraft went down.
“I am thinking because they both ejected, and I saw a video of it going down earlier, that they had time to call in and hopefully say what happened that would precipitate ejection. I mean if you lost an engine, normally you can glide,” Bevacqua said.
Lt. Col. Bevacqua didn’t find the U-2 particularly difficult to fly, but says landings were challenging.
Bevaqua is flying out tomorrow for a U-2 reunion in Texas with former pilots and support staff.