Francis Gary Powers life and biography

Francis Gary Powers picture, image, poster

Francis Gary Powers biography

Date of birth : 1929-08-17
Date of death : 1977-08-01
Birthplace : Jenkins, Kentucky
Nationality : American
Category : Arhitecture and Engineering
Last modified : 2011-06-16
Credited as : Pilot, U-2 incident, CIA spy

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Francis Gary Powers was an American pilot whose Central Intelligence Agency U-2 spy plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over Soviet Union airspace, causing the 1960 U-2 incident.

Francis Gary Powers was the pilot of an American spy plane shot down by the Soviet Union during a famous Cold War espionage incident. The event happened on 1 May 1960, while Powers was flying a U-2 high-altitude photographic surveillance plane over Russian airspace. Powers bailed out and was captured by the Soviets. At first the U.S. government claimed Powers had been conducting weather research, but later admitted that the U-2 was a spy plane. Powers was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was pardoned by the USSR in February of 1962 and sent back to America, in exchange for captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. Powers was later a test pilot for Lockheed and then flew a helicopter for television station KNBC in Los Angeles, where he died on the job in a 1977 a helicopter crash. He was awarded the Intelligence Medal in 1963 and a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross in 2000. He told his own story in his 1970 autobiography Operation Overflight (written with Curt Gentry).

Powers attended Milligan College in Tennessee... He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery... He was married to the former Barbara Moore from 1955 until their divorce in 1963. He married Claudia "Sue" Edwards in 1963 and they remined married until his death in 1977... U2 is also the name of a popular rock band of the late 20th century... Powers was played by Lee Majors (TV's Six Million Dollar Man) in the 1976 TV movie Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident.


In 1998, newly declassified information revealed that Powers’ mission had been a joint USAF/CIA operation. In 2000, on the 40th anniversary of the U-2 Incident, his family was presented his posthumously awarded Prisoner of War Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, and National Defense Service Medal. In addition, CIA Director George Tenet authorized Powers to posthumously receive the CIA's coveted Director's Medal for extreme fidelity and extraordinary courage in the line of duty. He was awarded the CIA's Intelligence Star in 1963 after his return from the Soviet Union.

T.H.E. Hill, in cooperation with Francis Gary Powers Jr., designed a Commemorative Cinderella stamp sheet for the fiftieth Anniversary of the U-2 Incident.

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