U-2 spy plane with fictitious NASA markings, California, 6 May 1960.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
'After Francis Gary Powers (b 1929) was shot down over the Soviet Union during a CIA spy flight on May 1 1960, NASA isued a cover story about a U-2 conducting weather research that may have strayed off-course after the pilot reported difficulties with his oxygen equipment. To bolster the cover-up, a U-2 was quickly painted with a fictitious NASA serial number, and shown to the news media at NASA's Dryen Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Edwards, California. The NASA cover story quickly blew up in the agency's face when both Gary Powers and aircraft wreckage were displayed by the Soviet Union, proving that it was a reconnaisance aircraft. This caused embarrasment for several top NASA officials.'