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GCSE History > U2 Incident

The events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis are outlined below and occured around May in 1960.

The USA military flew planes over Russia to gain aerial pictures of what was going on and was confident that Russia didnít have missiles good enough to shoot down the U2 aerial reconnaissance planes which flew at 30,000 feet above the ground. The USA always denied the existence of these flights but they had underestimated Russia and on 1st May 1960 a pilot named Gary Powers was shot done by a Russian SAM (surface to air missile).

Immediately the USA realised that the plane had been lost they began a cover up campaign. At this time, however, America didnít know that Gary Powers was alive and had been captured by Russia. To help save the Paris Summit meeting, America said that the plane had been lost studying weather conditions over Turkey.

Gary Powers and the distinctive remains of his plane were put on display in Moscow and as an added embarrassment to America, on 7th May Khrushchev announced that Gary powers had been captured and demanded for both the flights to stop and a public apology from America to Russia to be made.

Gary Powers served a 17 month prison sentence but was exchanged for a soviet spy imprisoned in America.

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