Francis Gary Powers
Captain, United States Air Force
Pilot, Central Intelligence Agency
War veteran who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960s.
In 1960, he was shot down over the USSR while piloting a U-2 spy plane
and was convicted of spying and confined to a Russian prison until exchanged
for a captured Russian spy.
He subsequently found employment as a helicopter pilot for television station KNBC in Los Angeles.
He died on August 1, 1977 in the crash of his helicopter. He was buried in Section 11 of Arlington National Cemetery.
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Museum docents generally are quite knowledgeable as they take tour groups through historic exhibits.
But Sue Powers, widow of famed spy pilot Francis Gary Powers, had an obvious leg up on most docents as she voluntarily guided groups through the Atomic Testing Museum at Flamingo Road and Swenson Street, which for the last eight months has featured about 200 artifacts from the life of her late husband.
"Mom really enjoyed talking to children about the U-2 (spy plane) incident, dad and the Cold War because she wanted to make sure they learned what that part of history was all about," said Francis Gary Powers Jr., of Fairfax, Virginia.
The exhibit closes Saturday, he said.
Sue Powers, who moved to Las Vegas permanently in 1994 after the Northridge earthquake destroyed her home and was a part-time local resident for 10 years before that, died in Las Vegas on June 17, 2004, of pulmonary problems. She was 68.
A private service for Powers is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday in Las Vegas. Powers will be buried with her husband in Arlington National Cemetery July 13, 2004.
Francis Gary Powers, an Air Force pilot, was flying a U-2 spy plane over the Soviet Union taking pictures of a Soviet missile installation when he was shot down by a Russian missile on May 1, 1960.
President Dwight Eisenhower, believing Powers did not survive the crash, denied it was a spy mission until Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev produced Powers alive.
Powers Jr., and Khrushchev's son, Sergei Khrushchev, a professor at Brown University and an American citizen, are longtime friends.
The son joined with his mother to found the national Cold War Museum to be built in Lorton, Va. It is slated to house the family's vast collection of Cold War artifacts, including personal items of Powers Sr., who died in 1977 at age 47 in the crash of a Los Angeles TV news helicopter he was piloting.
Sue Powers was born July 23, 1935, in Leesburg, Va. and raised in Washington, D.C., where she graduated from Anacostia High School in 1954. As a teenager she was recruited into the CIA, where she gave tests to spies to determined whether they had been compromised.
She met her future husband at CIA headquarters in 1962, Powers Jr. said.
In addition to her son, Powers is survived by a daughter, Dee Rogers of Egan, Minn.
The family said donations can be made to the
Cold War Museum, P.O. Box 178, Fairfax, Virginia 22030.
The Air Force will award a Silver Star posthumously
to Francis Gary Powers, the pilot whose spy plane was shot down in 1960
over the Soviet Union in a defining moment of the Cold War.
Gravesite Photo Courtesy of Ron Williams
POWERS, FRANCIS GARY
Updated: 24 January 2001 Updated: 2 February 2001 Updated: 14 June 2003 Updated: 23 June 2004 Updated: 28 January 2006 Updated: 28 February 2006 Updated 2 January 2012