LECTURE: Mayday 1960 – Reviewing The U-2 Incident 50 Years Ago

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U-2 pilot Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union on the 1st May 1960, provoking a major Cold War incident and ruining a summit meeting of the superpowers two weeks later. Many myths surrounded the U-2 Incident at the time, including the notions that Powers might have defected, or have been brought down by a bomb planted in the plane. Although these were dispelled, many questions remained, and some are still asked to this day. These include:

  • Why was the flight launched on the Soviet Union’s biggest national holiday?
  • Was the U-2 shot down at cruising altitude, or did it descend first?
  • How extensive and valuable were the U-2 overflights of the Soviet Union?
  • What was the role of British pilots?
  • Why did the U-2 programme survive the shootdown, and why is the aircraft still flying today?
About the speaker:

Chris Pocock

Defence Editor of Aviation International News and the European Editor of Cargo Facts

Chris Pocock is a full-time writer, specialising in defence aerospace and in air logistics. Chris’ interest in the U-2 started in the early 1970s with a visit to Davis-Monthan AFB, which was then the home of the US Air Force U-2 wing. In 1989, his first book Dragon Lady – A History of The U-2 Spyplane was published to favourable reviews, especially from members of the US airborne reconnaissance community. Chris continued to follow the history and current operations of this remarkable aircraft, ensuring that an original U-2C model and B-camera were preserved and transferred to the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, UK.  He was the first of only two foreign civilians to have ever flown in the U-2. His latest book, 50 Years of The U-2, was published in 2005 to mark the aircraft’s golden anniversary. The CIA Historian described him as “today’s foremost authority on the U-2 and its development.”

Free to attend: RSVP is appreciated

This Lecture has been organised by the Historical Group and will take place at the Royal Aeronautical Society, No.4 Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7BQ. Commencing at 18:00hrs, refreshments will be served from 17:30hrs. - View Map Below

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