"Francis Gary Powers"

2007
Aug
1

Speaking of TV helicopter crashes, exactly thirty years ago today, Francis Gary Powers fell from the sky for the second time. The first time was on May 1st, 1960, when the U-2 spy plane he was piloting [previously on MeFi] was shot down over Soviet Russia, a major international incident and one that many never forgave him for surviving.

After returning to America in a swap for Russian spy Rudolf Abel, he continued as a test pilot for Lockheed until he wrote the book Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident then reluctantly joined the Media as an airborne (small plane) traffic reporter at KGIL in Los Angeles (yes, that KGIL). He was recruited by Channel 4 when they acquired “The Original Telecopter” from rival Channel 5 and learned a new kind of piloting. Returning from a long trip covering brush fies in Santa Barbara, the chopper ran out of fuel. Some (including me) say he might have survived if he hadn’t made last-second maneuvers to avoid people on the ground.

I never worked with him directly, and only met him once, but I was ‘hanging out’ in the station’s newsroom when the crash happened and was one of the first to know. I helped assemble an on-air tribute that aired the next morning. He was an honest and honorable man, loved by everyone who knew him, and IMO, a hero.

2 Comments (so far) about

"Francis Gary Powers"

  1. Miss Cellania Says:

    Three weeks, Wendell! Are you alright?

  2. Don-O Says:

    I remeber the day Jess Marlow announced Powers crash and almost teared up, then said “damn it” and continued with the rest of the report.

    That must of hit KNBC really hard.

    Don-O

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