By Tennessee Museum of Aviation On July 4, 2014
The U-2 Incident: A Son’s Perspective
Francis Gary Powers, Jr., founder of the Cold War Museum, is scheduled to lecture on July 5, 2014. The hour long presentation is set to start at 11:00am, followed by a book signing.
Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident, written by pilot Francis Gary Powers, reveals the full story of what actually happened in the most sensational espionage case in Cold War history. The narrative is a remarkable suspense story about a man labeled as a traitor, but who emerged a Cold War hero.
The new edition includes a epilogue by defense analyst Norman Polmar and Francis Gary Powers, Jr. that updates this absorbing story.
Books will be available for purchase after the lecture
Excerpts from: To the Editor The Progress-Index – Petersburg, VA
Published: February 11, 2012 Written by: Francis Gary Powers Jr.
The U-2 Incident that occurred on May 1, 1960 was one of the most pivotal events in the history of the Cold War. It was the first time in U.S. history that an American president had been caught lying to the American public and to the world. The event caused such a strain on US/Soviet relations that Premier Khrushchev canceled an invitation for President Eisenhower to visit the Soviet Union later that year. In addition, the Paris Summit Conference that was planned for May 16, 1960 collapsed.
The controversy that surrounded the U-2 incident was magnified because of a captured pilot and an international show trial. The event was controversial not only because the U.S. was caught spying on the Soviets by flying over their territory, a practice that continues to this day over Iran and other countries hostile to the U.S., but because some people thought that the pilot did not follow orders upon capture or that the CIA had intentionally sabotaged the flight to ruin the May 16 Paris Summit Conference.
Rumors, speculation, misinformation, and some outright lies circulated in the press during Power’s captivity about his conduct, loyalty, and the cause of his capture. After enduring three months of Soviet interrogations, he was subjected to a highly publicized show trial designed to further embarrass the United States. Because there was the possibility that the verdict might result in the death penalty, Power’s Soviet appointed defense attorney convinced him to make a public “apology” in order to save his life. As a result, instead of being sentenced to death, the Soviet judges sentenced Powers to 10 years in prison. But he ended up serving a total of 21 months before being exchanged for Soviet spy Rudolph Abel.
February 10, 2014 – marked the 52nd anniversary of the spy exchange between U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers and Soviet spy Rudolph Abel on the Glienicker Bridge in Potsdam, Germany.
Two prisoners and an entourage of KGB and CIA officials were on either side of the bridge in their respective delegations. Once the agent’s identities were confirmed, the signal was given and the prisoners walked across the “Bridge of Spies” to their respective freedom.
Rudolph Abel was welcomed home as a hero to the Soviet Union. But Powers returned home to controversy surrounding the U-2 Incident. Because of inaccurate editorials in the press, many questioned the role he played in this international incident of espionage and intrigue between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.
FRANCIS GARY POWERS — served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and completed twenty-seven U-2 photographic reconnaissance missions for the CIA, including several overflights of the former Soviet Union, until shot-down by a Soviet surface to air missile on May 1, 1960 during the heights of the Cold War. Upon his return to the United States in 1962, he flew the U-2 as an engineer test pilot for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. Powers died in a helicopter crash in 1977 while working for KNBC News Channel 4 in Los Angeles and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
July 5, 2014
Francis Gary Powers, Jr.
The U-2 Incident: A Son’s Perspective
11:00am – 12:00pm – Lecture and Presentation
12:00pm – 12:30pm – Book Signing