Francis Gary Powers is Secretly Exchanged for Rudolf Ivanovich Abel at the Border of East Germany and West Berlin

When the U.S. government learned of Powers' disappearance over the Soviet Union, it issued a cover statement claiming a "weather plane" had crashed after its pilot had "difficulties with his oxygen equipment." What CIA officials did not realize was that the plane crashed almost fully intact, and the Soviets recovered its equipment. Powers was interrogated extensively by the KGB for months before he made a "voluntary confession" and a public apology for his part in espionage. The incident set back talks between Khrushchev and Eisenhower. On August 17, 1960, Powers was convicted of espionage against the Soviet Union and was sentenced to a total of 10 years, three years in imprisonment followed by seven years of hard labor. He was held in "Vladimirsky Central Prison", east of Moscow. The prison contains a small museum with an exhibit on Powers, who allegedly had a good rapport with Russian prisoners there.

On February 10, 1962, Powers was exchanged along with American student Frederic Pryor in a well publicised spy swap for Soviet KGB Colonel Vilyam Fisher (aka Rudolf Abel), a Soviet colonel who was caught by the FBI and put in jail for espionage, at the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin, Germany.

[Powers] was pardoned by the USSR in February of 1962 and sent back to America, in exchange for captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. Powers was later a test pilot for Lockheed and then flew a helicopter for television station KNBC in Los Angeles, where he died on the job in a 1977 a helicopter crash. He was awarded the Intelligence Medal in 1963 and a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross in 2000. He told his own story in his 1970 autobiography Operation Overflight (written with Curt Gentry).