From The Archives: Soviets Exploit U-2, Boasts Of Strength

Steven Spielberg's 2015 hit movie "Bridge Of Spies" portrays how a U.S. U-2 reconnaissance aircraft piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down by Soviet air defenses during an overnight flight of the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960.

Two weeks later, Aviation Week was still buying the false line that the aircraft had not been taken out by a Russian missile but crashed after an engine failure. 

Soviet leader Nikita "Khruschchev's most blatant lie is his statement that the U-2 was hit by Red Army anti-aircraft missile," wrote Editor-in-Chief Robert Hotz in a two-page editorial published May 16. "The fact is.... that Powers' U-2 had an engine flameout." 

A separate article in that same issue maintained that U-2 flights would continue over the Soviet Union "until an effective surveillance satellite system becomes operational and/or an arms inspection agreement is reached." But there would be no more overflights. In August 1960, the first top-secret U.S. Corona imagery reconnaissance satellite became operational, negating the need for more U-2 missions over Soviet territory.

Read the picture story on page 30 of Aviation Week's May 16, 1960 issue.

Read more on the U-2 by Robert Hotz on pages 20-21. 


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