Francis Gary Powers Jr., son of former U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers Sr., will present a lecture titled “The U-2 Incident: A Son’s Search for the Truth” on July 21 at 3 p.m. at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
On May 1, 1960, his father, Francis Gary Powers Sr., was shot down by a surface-to-air missile while flying over the Soviet Union. Powers Sr. bailed out and parachuted safely to the ground where he was captured by the KGB and held for interrogation. The plane crashed, but parts of it were recovered and placed on public display in Moscow. America’s secret reconnaissance missions were exposed and President Dwight Eisenhower was forced to admit to aerial spying. After extensive questioning by the KGB, Powers was convicted of spying and sentenced to three years in prison and seven more of hard labor. In February 1962, he and a detained American student were traded for captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.
Prior to and after his lecture, Powers Jr. will sign copies of the books “Letters from a Soviet Prison: The Personal Journal and Correspondence of CIA U-2 Pilot Francis Gary Powers;” “Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident” and “Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel and Francis Gary Powers” in the Museum Store from 1 to 2 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. The books will be available for purchase in the Museum Store, which is operated by the Air Force Museum Foundation Inc.
Powers Jr. is the founder and chairman emeritus of The Cold War Museum, a 501(c) (3) charity located in Vint Hill, Virginia. He founded the museum in 1996 to honor Cold War veterans, preserve Cold War history and educate future generations about this time period. He also serves as the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Cold War Theme Study, where he works with the National Park Service and leading Cold War experts to identify historic Cold War sites for commemoration, interpretation and preservation.
Recently, he served as a consultant for the Steven Spielberg Cold War thriller “Bridge of Spies,” which tells the story of James Donovan, who brokered the 1962 spy exchange of Rudolph Abel and U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers Sr. Powers Jr. also lectures internationally and appears regularly on the History, Discovery and A&E channels.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is the world’s largest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year about one million visitors from around the world come to the museum. For more information, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.