On May 1, 1960, Powers took off from Pakistan piloting a U-2, a high-altitude reconnaissance jet, on a mission which was to take him across the Soviet Union.
Powers was flying over 1,200 miles inside the Soviet Union, at an altitude of 70,000 feet, when he was shot down by surface-to-air missiles.
After parachuting safely to the ground, he was immediately captured by Soviet troops.
Powers was sentenced to three years in prison and seven years in a prison colony. He spent 21 months in prison before being released in Berlin, in an exchange for convicted Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, who had been serving a prison sentence in the United States.