Francis Gary Powers, Jr.

 

On May 1, 1960, 1,300 miles into Soviet airspace an American U-2 spy plane was flying at 70,000 feet, supposedly out of range of Soviet missiles. But the CIA’s U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, Gary’s Father, felt the thump of an exploding Soviet missile and was shot down over Russia. After being tried for espionage he served nearly two years in a Soviet prison suddenly becoming a key figure in the Cold War’s most infamous spy case that ultimately ended up with a prisoner exchange with the KGB spy Soviet Colonel Rudolph Abel.

Fifty-seven years later books, documentaries, and movies are still being written including Steven Spielberg’s 2016’s Academy Award winning Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks where Gary was a consultant and played a CIA agent. In 1996 Gary Powers Jr. founded the Cold War Museum outside Washington DC and lectured across the globe on the U-2 Incident, the need to preserve Cold War history, and honor Cold War veterans. Gary has written for the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), the National War College and appears regularly on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, and A&E.

Look for Francis Gary Powers. Jr.’s upcoming book Letters From a Soviet Prison. For information on getting an advance copy of his new book or speaking inquiries contact Gary at [email protected] or GaryPowers.com.

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There are 8 comments.

  1. John Walker Contributor

    One footnote to the Cold War history of Francis Gary Powers is that after surviving being shot down in a U-2 over the Soviet Union by an S-75 surface to air missile, trial and confinement in a Soviet prison, and eventual release in a prisoner exchange, he returned to the U.S. and became a news helicopter pilot for a Los Angeles television station, KNBC. In 1977 he, and his cameraman passenger, were killed while covering Los Angeles traffic when their helicopter ran out of fuel.

    • #1
    • June 5, 2017, at 3:15 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman Post author

    John Walker (View Comment):
    One footnote to the Cold War history of Francis Gary Powers is that after surviving being shot down in a U-2 over the Soviet Union by an S-75 surface to air missile, trial and confinement in a Soviet prison, and eventual release in a prisoner exchange, he returned to the U.S. and became a news helicopter pilot for a Los Angeles television station, KNBC. In 1977 he, and his cameraman passenger, were killed while covering Los Angeles traffic when their helicopter ran out of fuel.

    John, yes, Gary goes into losing his Father during this interview, how it impacted him as a 12-year-old boy and then became the catalyst for learning about his Father. This lead to his career opening the Cold War Museum and speaking for audiences worldwide.

    • #2
    • June 5, 2017, at 3:22 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Guruforhire Member

    Gary is a good guy.

    • #3
    • June 5, 2017, at 3:29 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Brian Wyneken Member

    In the “small world” department, Francis Gary Powers’ daughter Dee was an Air Force recruiter with the Minnesota Air National Guard. She assisted with my transition from active duty to the guard. She had not mentioned any connection, but someone later told me about this.

    • #4
    • June 5, 2017, at 5:01 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. JimGoneWild Coolidge

    Good history stuff. Loved it.

    • #5
    • June 5, 2017, at 9:43 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  6. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    I heard the name Francis Gary Powers several times on documentaries before I figured out that the name was Francis Gary Powers and not France’s Gary Powers.

    Why were we so worried about this guy from France?

    (I guess I didn’t know anyone named Francis…)

    • #6
    • June 5, 2017, at 10:19 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. James Madison Member

    FGP was a brave American.

    Gary is his son.

    What is the story here? Son writes book and gives speeches about brave father who died in helicopter accident? He consults on movie? Tom Hanks?

    The Cold War had many heroes. FGP is the point, not Gary.

    • #7
    • June 6, 2017, at 4:29 AM PDT
    • Like
  8. Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman Post author

    James Madison (View Comment):
    FGP was a brave American.

    Gary is his son.

    What is the story here? Son writes book and gives speeches about brave father who died in helicopter accident? He consults on movie? Tom Hanks?

    The Cold War had many heroes. FGP is the point, not Gary.

    JM, not sure I understand your point. Gary’s perspective is a treasure trove of little-known details about a pivotal chapter in U.S. history. If you wish to ask him any questions based on his interview, please leave them here.

    • #8
    • June 6, 2017, at 12:23 PM PDT
    • Like