At a dinner in Las Vegas on Friday 15 November, three heroes from U-2 history will be honored by “enshrinement” into the Nevada Aerospace Hall Of Fame (NVAHOF). The best known of them is the late Gary Powers, but the others are of equal note: the late Marty Knutson, and Tony Bevacqua, who is thankfully still with us.
The purpose of the NVAHOF is to preserve the legacy of aerospace pioneers in Nevada. Previous enshrinees have included personnel from CIA programs at Groom Lake, amongst others. Powers, Knutson and Bevacqua all learnt to fly the U-2 there.
Francis Gary Powers Jr will represent his father (left). He has crusaded to enhance his Dad’s reputation, which was clouded in some quarters after the MayDay1960 shootdown. He has written a book about those efforts, and his father’s story. He has also published the letters written by his father while he was imprisoned in the Soviet Union.
Marty Knutson (right) was another CIA U-2 pilot. He flew alongside Powers in Detachment B based in Turkey. After the shootdown, he continued flying U-2s for The Agency, and later for NASA. He may be represented by his son Eric, who is an employee of the Skunk Works.
Tony Bevacqua (left) was the youngest pilot to be chosen for the US Air Force U-2 program. He later flew the SR-71 Blackbird, and retired near Beale AFB, where he has been a stalwart supporting the base and the continuing operations of the Dragon Lady. He organized last month’s 4080th/100th SRW reunion there.
This is the 10th dinner to be organised by the NVAHOF, and is well worth attending. I will be there. The date has been chosen to coincide with the Nellis AFB airshow.
For more information, visit www.nvahof.org