Spy Pilot: Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 Incident, and a Controversial Cold War Legacy | Evening Lecture with Francis Gary Powers Jr.

Where: 
East Tennessee History Center
When: 
Thursday, November 18, 2021 - 7:00pm

One of the most talked-about events of the Cold War was the downing of the American U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960. The event was recently depicted in the Steven Spielberg movie Bridge of Spies. Powers was captured by the KGB, subjected to a televised show trial, and imprisoned, all of which created an international incident. Soviet authorities eventually released him in exchange for captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. On his return to the United States, Powers was exonerated of any wrongdoing while imprisoned in Russia, yet a cloud of controversy lingered until his untimely death in 1977.

Now his son, Francis Gary Powers Jr., has written this new account of his father's life based on personal files that have never been previously available. Delving into old audio tapes, the transcript of his father's debriefing by the CIA, other recently declassified documents about the U-2 program, and interviews with his contemporaries, Powers sets the record straight. The result is a fascinating piece of Cold War history.

Almost sixty years after the event, this will be the definitive account of a famous Cold War incident, one proving that Francis Gary Powers acted honorably through a trying ordeal in service to his country.

 

Francis Gary Powers Jr. is the founder and chairman emeritus of The Cold War Museum, a 501(c) (3) charity in Vint Hill, Virginia, near Washington, DC. As chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Cold War Theme Study, he works with the National Park Service and leading Cold War experts to identify historic Cold War sites for commemorating, interpreting, and preservation. He served as a consultant to Steven Spielberg's Cold War thriller, Bridge of Spies. He lectures internationally and appears regularly on the History, Discovery, and A&E Channels.