England

Girl, nine, talks down U-2 spy plane at Fairford

A nine-year-old girl from Devon has "talked down" a US Air Force spy plane in Gloucestershire.

Plane-mad Ellie Carter rode in a chase car from where she and another pilot spoke to the U-2 captain to say how close he was to the runway.

She was given the task after writing to the Fairford Air Tattoo to ask if the U-2 could fly at this summer's event.

Her letter was forwarded to Beale air force base in California and Ellie was invited to see one land in the UK.

Captain Raymond Tierney said the US Air Force was "very impressed" with the knowledge Ellie had about the aircraft.

He said one of the planes was coming to Fairford as part of "routine aircraft movements" so he invited Ellie to see it land with her parents, Neil and Lorna Carter, from Great Torrington.

'Really cool'

Capt Tierney said: "Because the U-2 operates at such a high altitude the crew have to wear space suits and this restricts the pilot's movement - and hence his vision of the runway.

"Ellie and her dad were in a high performance car with a second pilot chasing the plane down the runway and painting a picture in words of where the aircraft was in space relative to the runway.

"This commentary is like having another instrument in the cockpit and provides another set of eyes and ears for the U-2 pilot."

Image caption Ellie said the car got very close to the plane but said she was not scared

Ellie said it was "really cool" as she got to ride in the car with a pilot.

"We went really fast and got very close to the wings but it wasn't scary at all," she added.

Once the plane was safely on the ground Ellie was treated to a tour of the plane and met its crew.

Ellie said: "I originally wrote the letter to say I wanted to see the U-2 at the show.

"I didn't expect to hear anything back because I realised I hadn't put my address on it.

"Then we heard an appeal on the radio asking if anyone knew where we lived as they wanted to get in touch.

"Today was just amazing. I got to talk the pilot and he told me a lot more about the U-2.

"When I grow up I really want to fly one of them."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites