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How NASA Helped With the U-2 Spy Plane Cover-up

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How NASA Helped With the U-2 Spy Plane Cover-up

u-2 spy plane

The recent release of classified documents concerning the CIA’s secret reconnaissance project, the U-2, has rekindled a fascination with the program. However, it is not just the program that has caught the public’s eye. The amount of disinformation that surrounded the U-2 is just as interesting as the project itself.

One aspect of that disinformation was discussed in a previous article about when the government noticed an increased number of UFO reports and did little to dispel the UFO myth. Another disinformation campaign concerning the U-2 occurred in 1960 and a major participant was NASA.

The U-2 program began in 1954 in an effort to build a high altitude reconnaissance plane. When the U-2 began flying covert missions, President Eisenhower began laying the foundation for a cover story. In case the plane was seen, or captured, the President wanted people to believe that the U-2 was not anything more than a research plane used for weather research domestically and abroad.

In an attempt to give the story some sense of validity, the President had the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, NASA ‘s predecessor, issue a press release claiming that the aircraft was theirs and that all it was studying was weather.

Even though the press release officially came from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, many (including foreign governments) did not buy the cover story.

U-2 Shot Down

On May 1, 1960, the American government’s worse fear became a reality when the U-2, flying a secret mission over the Soviet Union, was shot down. When news reached the President, it was decided that the weather research story was the story they would stick to. Therefore, to address the downed plane and the missing pilot, NASA issued another statement, which read:

“One of NASA’s U-2 Research Airplanes, in use since 1956 in a continuing program to study gust-meteorological conditions found at high altitude, has been missing since about 9 o’clock Sunday morning.” (1)

The statement went on to describe the weather mission in great detail. A mission that was purely fictitious.

In the statement, NASA also was sure to add that the men on the plane were only researchers and not affiliated with any branch of the military. This lack of affiliation should exempt them from being treated as prisoners of war.

Along with the cover story, NASA also displayed a U-2 with NASA logos and series numbers in an attempt to convince the media, but moreover, the Soviets that the U-2 was nothing more than a research aircraft.

Even though NASA and the CIA did their best to create a disinformation campaign to keep the U-2’s real purpose a secret, all of that came to a head on May 7, 1960.

u-2 spy camera

Admitting the U-2 Was a Spy Plane

According to NASA, it was on that date when “Soviet Premier Kruschev announced the capture and confession of Powers.” (2) To prove their find, along with disproving the statements made by NASA, the Soviets quickly revealed the U-2 along with its pilot, Gary Powers, to the media.

An investigation into the plane and the equipment it carried proved that it was not a weather research aircraft, but (just as the Soviets thought) a highly advanced reconnaissance aircraft. Kruschev made a statement to the Supreme Soviet that summarized the findings of the investigation.

“He also displayed samples of the developed film allegedly taken by camera equipment installed on the plane and charged that Powers had flown out of Peshawar airfield in Pakistan, which was correct, and not out of Turkey, and his landing destination was Bodo airfield in Norway.” (3)

Due to what the Soviets discovered, the US government issued a statement effectively owning up to the fact that the U-2 really was a spy plane and it really was flying over the Soviet Union on a reconnaissance mission.

The entire debacle blew up in NASA’s face. Furthermore, NASA did not actually get a U-2 of their own to conduct real high-altitude research until 1971; nearly 11 years after the incident.

This is just on example of how far the government will go and who it will involve in an attempt to cover-up something that they feel the general public or foreign governments must not know about. It seems that the government’s disinformation isn’t only confined to the government nor the military.

References & Image Credits:
(1) Cool Interesting Stuff
(2) NASA
(3) FAS
(5) University of Michigan
(6) scopeland via photopin cc
(7) Wikipedia

Originally published on

“The thing about the truth is, not a lot of people can handle it.” -Conor McGregor

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Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

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Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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