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U.S. Plane Wanders Over Soviet Territory, JFK “Regrets” Incident

Oct. 28, 1962 - A U.S. plane flew over Soviet Far Eastern territory today, but both President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev sought to avoid tension over the incident. The President told Mr. Khrushchev that the incursion resulted from a navigational error. “I regret this incident and will see to it that every precaution is taken to prevent recurrence,” Mr. Kennedy declared. Premier Khrushchev disclosed the incident in his letter to President Kennedy on the Cuban crisis. He recalled previous flights by U-2 reconnaissance planes over Soviet territory but used language much less bristling than the Russians had employed in earlier protests. Mr. Kennedy said the plane, “without arms or photographic equipment,” was on a mission to sample the atmosphere in connection with Soviet nuclear tests. Its course was from Eielson Air Force base in Alaska to the North Pole and back. In turning at the pole, the President said, “the pilot made a serious navigational error that carried him over Soviet territory.” The pilot immediately “made an emergency call on open radio for navigational assistance and was guided back to his home base by the most direct route,” the President explained. Both men evidently wished to avoid having this incident add to the problems of the dispute over Cuba.


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