During the waning years of the 1950s, the Soviet Union repeatedly charged that American spyplanes were overflying their country. American spokesmen, including President Eisenhower, publicly denied the charges. On May 6, 1960, President Krushchev angrily announced that an American U2 spyplane had been shot down near Sverdlosk, 1,200 miles within Soviet borders. The U.S. State Department denied ever having ordered overflights; a NASA official reported that a U2 being used for high altitude atmospheric research may have encountered an oxygen failure and drifted across the Soviet border accidentally. On the following day the Kremlin published photographs of the wrecked plane with its surveillance equipment, and the State Department admitted that the U2 “probably” had been spying. NASA found that none of their planes were missing after all. The U2 affair became a major international incident and figured prominently in the early collapse of a four-power summit conference that summer.
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