The dirty, dangerous job US airmen do to ensure U-2 pilots can breathe at 70,000 feet

Get the Full StoryUS Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Harris

For more than 60 years, the U-2 has lurked all over earth, watching and listening from as high as 70,000 feet.

Flying the U-2 is already a tough task, and when pilots are up there, they're reliant on a special kind of oxygen.

Airmen on the ground at Beale Air Force Base, the U-2's home base, are responsible for ensuring pilots have enough of that air.

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Beale Air Force Base, California When working with fuels it can get dirty and hazardous. 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron LRS fuels facility operators know how to stay safe, and clean in a dirty career.

Working with liquid oxygen is vital for U-2 pilots and the mission.

"Pilots rely on us to make sure they can breathe while wearing their suit," said Senior Airman Corey Walton, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels facility operator "We are always careful and critical to make sure nothing goes wrong when transferring liquid oxygen."Liquid Oxygen LOX is called Aviator's Breathing Oxygen ABO , it's a pilot's main source of air at altitudes exceeding 10,000 feet.

US Air Force Senior Airman Colville McFee

"LOX is a cooled pressurized gas, and it is minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit," said Senior Airman Parker Turk, 9th LRS fuels facility operator. "It's so cold we wear coveralls, gloves, face shields and boots to protect our skin from contact burns."

US Air Force Senior Airman Colville McFee

After servicing and testing, the LOX is transported to the flight line where it is put into an aircraft safely for the U-2 pilots.

US Air Force Senior Airman Colville McFee

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