Original image

What Became of Captain Gary Powers?

Original image

British Navy mechanic Arthur Batchelor, one of the recently released Iranian hostages, has been criticized for "making a mockery of his capture in a series of sickening photos." I can't begin to imagine what it's like to be held in captivity, so I wouldn't think of passing judgment. But this got me thinking about Gary Powers, the pilot whose U-2 spy plane was shot down over the U.S.S.R. in 1960. I wondered what became of Captain Powers upon his return. Here's what I learned.

  • On February 10, 1962, after Powers had spent twenty-one months in a Soviet prison, the United States traded KGB Colonel Vilyam Fisher (alias Rudolf Abel) "“ who had been captured in New York in 1957 "“ for Powers and American student Frederic Pryor. It was an old fashioned spy swap.
  • The Soviets salvaged the spy plane's surveillance camera and developed the photographs. Powers' survival pack, including 7500 rubles and jewelry for women, was also recovered. Both the survival pack and much of the U-2 wreckage are on display at the Central Museum of Armed Forces in Moscow.
  • Powers appeared before a Senate Armed Services Select Committee hearing, which included Senators Prescott Bush and Barry Goldwater. Although some had criticized the pilot for failing to destroy the camera (while others thought he should have taken his own life), the Committee determined that Powers followed orders, did not divulge any critical information to the Soviets, and conducted himself "as a fine young man under dangerous circumstances."
  • Powers worked as a test pilot for Lockheed from 1963 to 1970. In 1970, he wrote a book called Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident.
  • Sadly and strangely, Powers died in a helicopter crash on August 1, 1977, while working for television station KNBC.
  • Survived by his wife and two children, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
  • His widow's house was destroyed in the 1994 Northridge earthquake; she then relocated to Las Vegas. She passed away in 2004.
  • Powers was posthumously honored by the U.S. Air Force on the 40th anniversary of his plane being shot down. He was presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross, Department of Defense Prisoner of War Medal, and National Defense medals - all of which he had been denied during his lifetime.

Thanks to the BBC, Matt's Today in History, the ReviewJournal and Wikipedia. That photo is his suit, which is on display at the Atomic Testing Museum in Vegas.

Original image
Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
Original image
Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]


More from mental floss studios