Francis Gary Powers (August 17, 1929 – August 1, 1977) was a pilot, whose Central Intelligence Agency U-2 spy plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over Soviet Union airspace, causing the 1960 U-2 incident.
On February 10, 1962, Powers was exchanged along with American student Frederic Pryor in a well-publicized 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 died in 1977 in an accident. He had been covering bush fires in Santa Barbara County. As he returned, his Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter ran out of fuel and crashed several miles short of Burbank Airport. The National Transportation Safety Board report attributed the probable cause of the crash to pilot error (poor fuel management). According to Powers' son, an aviation mechanic had repaired a faulty fuel gauge without telling Powers, who misread it. At the last moment he noticed children playing in the area, and directed the helicopter elsewhere to prevent their deaths. If not for the last second deviation, which compromised his autorotative descent, he might have landed safely.