U-2 Incident

An embarrassing incident occurred toward the end President Eisenhower’s administration involving the downing of a U.S. spy plane in Soviet territory that marked an important chapter in the ongoing tensions between the Americans and the Russians.


U-2 spy plane

Eisenhower sent U-2 reconnaissance planes over the Soviet Union while he, western leaders and Khrushchev scheduled a summit meeting in Maryland for May 1960. On May Day (May 1st) a U-2 plane piloted by Captain Francis Gary Powers was shot down by a Soviet missile. Powers was captured and the Russians had physical proof of the incident despite the U.S. initially denying being involved.  Both nations eventually exchanged prisoners, but the incident brought both nations further apart, increasing the already high tensions between the two powers that would become a precursor to the Cuban Missile Crisis.


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