Friday, February 10, 2012

Today in Spy History - 50 Years Ago - Francis Gary Powers

On a bridge outside Berlin one gloomy morning 50 years ago Friday stood Francis Gary Powers, the pilot of a CIA spy plane that was shot down over the Russian Ural mountains. He had waited 21 months for this moment. He had survived a plane crash, weeks of harsh interrogation and the brutal conditions of a Soviet prison. He was on the threshold of freedom, and his heart was thumping heavily.

On the opposite end of the steel-trussed Glienecke Bridge was Col. Rudolph Abel, the highest-ranking Russian intelligence officer to be caught spying in the United States.

At 8:52 a.m., the two men began walking forward. They passed each other and made eye contact. Neither said a word.

It was a dramatic — and surprisingly peaceful — end to a political crisis at a time of extreme tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. (more)