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The U2 Dragon Lady in flight. USAF photo.

WATCH: The U-2 ‘Dragon Lady’ Spy Plane in Flight

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Pilots call it the Dragon Lady because the U-2 is tough to handle when taking off and landing – and isn’t easy to fly at altitude, where thin air at 70,000 feet is a tricky environment.

The U-2 airframe that played a significant role during the Cold War appeared in the news recently after a Dragon Lady pilot took a cockpit selfie showing the Chinese spy balloon during its cross-country foray through American airspace. 

The Dragon Lady puts on quite a display on takeoff, with a seemingly slow glide suddenly turning into a sharp vertical climb. On landing, a ground crew chases the plane to make sure nothing goes awry as the long wings that want to send the aircraft aloft again.

READ MORE about the U-2 cockpit selfie.

Unless you live near a U-2 base, your chances are slim of spotting a Dragon Lady in action. Here’s a look at this distinctive plane as it makes an appearance at a U.S. air show.

U-2 Dragon Lady at work

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