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Powers Down: The 60th Anniversary Of The U-2 Spy Plane Incident

Sixty years ago, Soviet Air Defense Forces shot down a U.S. spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers as he was on a photographic-reconnaissance mission deep inside the U.S.S.R.

The single-seat U-2 aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile on May 1, 1960, and crashed near what is today Yekaterinburg. Powers parachuted to safety but was captured and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The incident caused an international furor and Powers was later exchanged for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel in 1962. It was the last time the United States used a U-2 spy plane over the Soviet Union as satellites performed the same function after 1961.

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Kateryna Oliynyk

Kateryna Oliynyk is a digital media coordinator for RFE/RL.

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Stuart Greer

Stuart Greer is a multimedia editor for RFE/RL.

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