New Book ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT Reveals Accidental U-2 Flight Over Soviet Airspace During Missile Crisis
SOURCE: National Security Archive (6-11-08)
Washington, DC, June 11, 2008 - An American spy plane went missing over the Soviet Union at the height of the Cuban missile crisis for one and a quarter hours without the Air Force informing either President Kennedy or Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, according to a new book by Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs (drawing on documents posted here today by the National Security Archive.)
The accidental intrusion into Soviet air space by a U-2 belonging to the Strategic Air Command on October 27, 1962, is still classified Top Secret by the Air Force and has received little attention from missile crisis historians. Dobbs discovered a map in the National Archives that reveals for the first time the precise route taken by Captain Charles Maultsby as he was chased by Soviet Mig Fighters over the Chukotka Peninsula.
This is the second of five postings looking at the new material in One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War, which draws on the National Security Archive's long-standing documentary work on the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Air Force was able to track Maultsby's flight route by intercepting Soviet Air Defense communications, but did not inform McNamara about the incident until Maultsby left Soviet air space, ran out of fuel, and glided home to Alaska. Khrushchev later expressed concern that the intruding U.S. plane could have been mistaken "for a nuclear bomber, which might push us to a fateful step."
In coming weeks, the National Security Archive will publish more of the key primary sources behind One Minute to Midnight. New postings will cover such episodes as the storage and handling of Soviet nuclear weapons on Cuba, and the "Eyeball to Eyeball" confrontation between U.S. and Soviet ships that never happened.
National Security Archive