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Pilots eject as U-2 spy plane crashes in California

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Two US pilots safely ejected from a U-2 spy plane on a training mission before the aircraft crashed in rural California, the Air Force said Tuesday.

[WASHINGTON] Two US pilots safely ejected from a U-2 spy plane on a training mission before the aircraft crashed in rural California, the Air Force said Tuesday.

The plane came down shortly after takeoff in an unpopulated area in Sutter, north of state capital Sacramento, the Air Force said.

Both pilots were safe and awaiting recovery.

The plane was assigned to the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, the facility said on Facebook.

U-2 spy planes came to the world's attention during the Cold War, when one of the secret reconnaissance planes piloted by Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union.

The Air Force still has 33 U-2s in service, five of which are two-seat trainers.

With a maximum altitude of 21,300 metres, the U-2 was initially designed to fly out of reach of Soviet air defenses.

AFP