INT: Did any flights continue on over Russia at all after that period?
MK: To my knowledge, the May 1st flight of the U-2 was the last flight ever made over Russia by a U-2.
INT: Good answer.
(Wait for plane to pass. A bit of b/g talk. Cut.)
INT: Martin, can I take you back a bit again to 1957? At this time, in October, Sputnik was launched by the Russians. Did it come as a surprise to you and your colleagues, and what was the reaction?
MK: In about 1957, we were at that time just coming into Turkey for consolidating the various units at Turkey, and the Russians launched the Sputnik satellite. This came as a great surprise to all the pilots there, and a lot of respect grew amongst us for the Russian technical capability. I can remember we'd all go out on a clear night and stand outside and... maybe with a glass of beer in our hands, and we'd watch this bright light go across the sky, and there's no getting around it, in our minds the risks had gone up with our careers.
INT: ... Do you remember one of the things which you said earlier is the fact that they were flying far higher than the U-2. So I'll just ask you that one more time. What happened when you saw Sputnik going overhead?
MK: It certainly didn't take long for the (Clears throat) thought to sink in that that was flying a lot higher than the 70,000 feet of our max altitude in the U-2s, and if they could fly around up that high, our risks had increased considerably in flying the U-2 over Russia.
INT: Martin, can I ask you, what was your worst moment in the history of the Cold War, both as a civilian and as a pilot? Did you ever think that it was going close to the brink?
MK: I've got to think about that.
MK: The worst moment... (Pause) I believe the worst psychological time I had in the U-2 programme, was post- the May 1st shoot-down of Frank Powers, when President Eisenhower announced to the world and we were ordered to not do any more over flights of Russia. I was very disturbed about that, because I thought we were producing a tremendous amount of good intelligence that could help with the defence of the United States, and very disappointed in our Government for stopping this effort. Looking back on it now, I might have different thoughts, but that was my thoughts at the time.
INT: That's fine - that's a good answer.
MK: I'll be honest with you.
INT: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I know you can't talk much about it, but how important was the role that the U-2 played in the Cuban missile crisis?
MK: Years later, [in] what they called the Cuban missile crisis, the U-2 played a key role in the discovery of those sites. They produced the data, turned into photographs, that President Kennedy showed the world. I believe that without the U-2 having discovered those missiles at the time, it might not have ended as peacefully as it did.
INT: Overall, looking at its amazing history as a plane, how important would you rate the U-2 in the whole psyche of the Cold War?
MK: The Cold War went on for many years, and of course had many facets to it, from both sides. I don't think anyone would disagree with the fact that the U-2 would certainly have to be ranked amongst the top, as one of the greater, more successful efforts that occurred during the Cold War.
INT: Do you think that the shooting down of Frank Powers, though, contributed to... "lengthening" is the wrong word, but do you think that if Powers hadn't been shot down, it would have not escalated as it did towards Cuba, or is that irrelevant?
MK: I can't attach any particular politics of the later years to the shooting down of Frank Powers. I believe maybe the importance, in looking back, was that did cause a tremendous rupture between Russia and the United States. Whether that was good or bad, I have no opinion on.
INT: I thinalmost the final question. One more time, going back to one of our earlier questions: when you looked down through your upside-down periscope and you saw below you and you saw Leningrad below you, just tell me the first time that happened to you.
MK: I think one of the excitmoments I remember on some of the early flights is coming over Leningrad and looking down through the viewfinder, as we call it, kind of an upside-down periscope or bomb-sight, and I suddenly realised that where my cross hairs were pointing was the very target I'd had as a nuclear fighter pilot on Strategic Air Command, and you know, I had seen pictures of 20 years ago, on old driving maps of the area, and here I was looking at the real thing, and that was quite a sensation.
INT: Could you see at the time... were you aware of what retaliation the Russians were attempting?
MK: On most of the flights, '56-'57-'58, there was usually a constant stream of Russian fighters below you. In fact, at times they got so thick that the analysts back in the United States, looking at the film, were trying to figure out some way to get pictures without air planes spoiling all of the data that (Laughs) they were trying to look at.
INT: And all of those pilots had one aim, wasn't it?
MK: All of those fighters underneath had one target in mind, and that was your tail-pipe. (Laughs)
INT: Given it was such a high-risk venture, the U-2 programme, why was it undergone?
MK: I think it's hard for people to remember back, and a lot of people weren't born then. Back in 1955, '54, we were terribly paranoid in the United States. There was this great Evil Empire on the other side of the world, the Russian Bear. We had no knowledge of anything going on in that country since World War II, and not much during World War II. Imaginations run away with everybody, and we were flat, flat paranoid; the military was paranoid, the public was paranoid. We were building nuclear bomb shelters in back yards back then. A lot of people can't remember that. Was it the right thing to be paranoid? I don't know, but we were.
INT: Excellent. ... That was such a good answer, but I'm going to have to ask you one more time because of the noise.
INT: Martin, can you tell me: given that it was such a...
(Helicopter - Cut)
INT: OK, last question then, Martin. It was a such a high-risk mission. Why did the U-2 programme go ahead?
MK: In the mid-Fifties we were very paranoid about Russia. There was the vast Evil Empire, the Russian Bear. There'd been no intelligence about their capabilities or intentions come out since World War II, and probably not much during World War II, so we were paranoid. We had to find out if they were jeopardising the future of the United States. Was it right to be paranoid? I don't know - but I was. We were building nuclear bomb shelters in back yards then.
INT: Did you ever think that there would be a nuclear war?
MK: I think that in those years I was very concerned at the reality of the nuclear war. I believed I would do anything I could do personally to help prevent that.
INT: Martin, thank you very much indeed...