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The CIA Had A Top-Secret Manual To Help U-2 Pilots Avoid Crapping Their Pants At 70,000 Feet
How exactly do the pilots of one of the world's most sophisticated spy plane take a dump during flights of between 8 and 12 hours at twice the altitude of commercial airliners?
The answer is simple, according to the CIA: They don't.
Back in 1962, the CIA put out a top-secret manual explaining the ins and outs of why and how U-2 pilots could go through a long surveillance flight while, well, keeping their own waste in.
While operating at an altitude of 70,000 feet, the U-2 reconnaissance plane's low pressure required pilots take special precautions to avoid a grisly end, from a pre-flight diet of pure oxygen to a pressurized flight suit.
"If nitrogen remains even after pre-breathing and the pilot goes up," as Air & Space explained, "the thin atmosphere will cause the nitrogen dissolved in the body’s blood and tissue to essentially boil." That the U-2 even manages to operate at all without liquifying its pilots is something of a minor miracle.
Flight suits came with a special contraption to handle urine, but defecating was simply a no-go at cruising altitudes. “We’d ruin the suit,” as U-2 pilot Capt. Michael Opresko told Stars & Stripes. “So for that reason, we eat a high-protein, low-residue diet.”
Ironically, the Central Intelligence Agency's guide to feces-free spy plane operations has remained classified for decades — until now. Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, the folks at MuckRock managed to surface the agency's 1962 manual for "physical maintenance control," including the controlled pre-flight diet and regimen of pilots.
U-2 pilots need a "high protein, low residue diet ... to provide foods which can be almost completely absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract" for at least 24 hours prior to a mission, "thereby leaving a minimum of residue for the formation of feces and intestinal gases," according to the CIA manual.
"This obviates the need for frequent defecation and decreases the likelihood of significant gaseous expansion in the intestinal tract."
The bottom line: Less need to shit means less chance of your shit exploding in your gut. Gross.
That core U-2 pilot diet consists of "meat, rice, eggs, sugar" and "small amounts of fruit juices, tea, and coffee," per the CIA:
Banned foods, on the other hand, include everything good in this world:
No word yet on whether the U-2 diet pairs with any other military-related activities, but if you do choose to give it a shot, send us a status report.
You can read the entire handbook at MuckRock.
The Marine Corps has tapped a new Silicon Valley defense firm to develop a "digital fortress" of networked surveillance systems in order to enhance the situational awareness of security forces at installations around the world.
Marine Corps Installations Command on July 15 announced a $13.5 million sole source contract award to Anduril Industries — the two-year-old defense technology company and Project Maven contractor founded by Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and several former Palantir Technologies executives — for a new Autonomous Surveillance Counter Intrusion Capability (ASCIC) designed to help secure installations against "all manners of intrusion" without additional manpower.
This is no standard intrusion system. Through its AI-driven Lattice Platform network and 32-foot-tall autonomous Sentry Towers, Anduril purports to combine the virtual reality systems that Luckey pioneered at Oculus with Pentagon's most advanced sensors into a simple mobile platform, enhancing an installation's surveillance capabilities with what Wired recently dubbed "a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees."
The Marine Corps' dune buggy drone jammer may have downed two Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. military have officials announced.
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer was transiting the Strait of Hormuz on July 18 when two Iranian drones came dangerously close, according to U.S. Central Command.
"This was a defensive action by the USS Boxer in response to aggressive interactions by two Iranian UAS [unmanned aerial systems] platforms in international waters," CENTCOM spokesman Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement. "The Boxer took defensive action and engaged both of these platforms."
Green Beret with terminal cancer meets Trump to rally support for military medical malpractice reform
On July 17, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal briefly met with President Donald Trump at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina to discuss the eponymous legislation that would finally allow victims of military medical malpractice to sue the U.S. government.
A Green Beret with terminal lung cancer, Stayskal has spent the last year fighting to change the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court precedent that bars service members like him from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.
The Pentagon is no longer topless. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Mark Esper as the United States' first permanent defense secretary in more than seven months.
Esper is expected to be sworn in as defense secretary later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters.
"We are grateful for the Senate leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee's willingness to quickly move through this process," Hoffman said.
The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick that dropped last week was indisputably the white-knuckle thrill ride of the summer, a blur of aerial acrobatics and beach volleyball that made us wonder how we ever lost that lovin' feeling in the decades since we first met Pete "Maverick" Mitchell back in 1986.
But it also made us wonder something else: Why is Maverick still flying combat missions in an F/A-18 Super Hornet as a 57-year-old captain after more than 30 years of service?