Instructions included what to eat and how to behave before and after missions

As reported in this article, it was difficult for the U-2 spy plane’s pilots to fly that long, sleek single-engine monster as it photographed the earth’s surface for the CIA at 70,000 feet. Because of the layout of the aircraft and the absence of a co-pilot, they frequently flew sorties lasting nine hours or longer.

There was no toilet on board but pilots could use the “relief tube” to pee. However, it wasn’t enjoyable to endure passing gas odors or to sit in your own poop for so long.

u-2 pilot toilet

Thankfully, the CIA leaders thought of everything. To ensure that you didn’t need to poop or fart while in the air, they actually produced a guidebook with instructions on how to eat.

The CIA started the U-2 Spy Program at the outset of the Cold War in the 1950s. While flying over China, the Soviet Union, and other communist nations, U-2 aircraft would take hundreds of pictures of the ground.

The US spymasters used these images to learn more about how these Communist nations were developing their capacity to produce conventional weapons and their nuclear programs. This provided the Americans with crucial information that enabled them to guess at these nations’ intentions.

These missions were closely monitored and kept under the tightest CIA control. They were also shrouded in the utmost secrecy. So tightly controlled that the CIA even gave their pilots specific orders for how to live their lives before and after missions.

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A copy of the recently declassified manual was acquired by Muckrock, a website that deals with freedom of information requests. They published the manual, which described the extent to which the CIA controlled its pilots’ lives.

The guideline recommended that pilots get at least ten hours of sleep, engage in enjoyable activities with their families, play cards, or play chess, and engage in some light exercise, such as golf, gardening, volleyball, swimming, or swimming.

Moreover, the CIA must have hired a dietitian to design a diet that would allow the pilot to consume all the food they wanted without having to pass any waste, and moreover, the body wouldn’t develop gas from it. There would be little to no poop or gas produced because this diet was heavy in protein but low in fiber.

According to the instructions, the diet was required for pilots whose missions would last ten hours or longer and was highly recommended for pilots flying for six hours or less.

The manual instructs pilots to start eating at least 24 hours before takeoff so that their gastrointestinal tracts would be practically empty when they faced nine hours in the cockpit.

The diet page lists carbonated drinks, tea, and coffee as acceptable libations. Among the permitted foods were:

  • foods like cream of wheat, macaroni, rice, and noodles;
  • cottage cheese;
  • gelatin, sherbet, angel cakes, sponge cakes, and sugar cookies are examples of desserts;
  • any form of eggs besides fried;
  • minimal quantities of cooked fruit;
  • all types of meats, including poultry and seafood;
  • soups such as clear broths;
  • a daily allotment of only bland vegetables like potatoes and carrots;
  • modest amounts of sweets like jelly and hard candy.
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The diet excluded items including spicy food, pickles, fruit, popcorn, whole grains, fatty meats like bacon, mackerel, fatty pork, lamb, and mutton, nuts, snacks, fatty foods, fries, pies, pastries, bread, milk, and desserts deemed “rich” by the instruction manual.

It must have been challenging for the pilots to follow these rules, notably the ban on spicy meals, as many of the U-2 flights left from nations like Turkey, Taiwan, and South Korea.

However, pilots must have felt great relief when spy satellites took up the chore of taking pictures of the earth’s surface. They wouldn’t have to spend nine hours in the pilot’s seat knowing they had nowhere to run to if they had had to poop. The manual makes for light, entertaining reading now, but the pilot and his family must have regarded it with disdain at the time.