On September 2, 1958, a USAF C-130 reconnaissance aircraft was shot down by Soviet MiG-17 pilots. While conducting its mission, the US craft strayed into restricted airspace over Soviet Armenia. It was supposed to fly a "race track" pattern between the Turkish cities of Trabzon and Van essentially parallel to the Armenian border.
Why did the C-130 cross into Armenian space? The answer is unclear. One theory is that aircraft personnel were confused by Turkish navigational beacons that were on similar frequencies to those in Armenia and Georgia.
The Soviets denied shooting down the aircraft, claiming the plane "fell" into their territory. Immediately they returned the remains of six out of the 17 men on board. The US, concerned about the fate of the other 11, hoped to encourage the Soviets to be more forthcoming. They released tape recordings of the Soviet fighter pilots' communications during the shoot down.
Clearly the pilots had taken offensive action against the C-130. But that was of no matter to the Soviets who continued to deny their involvement.
The matter was never resolved until the end of the Cold War when previously classified documents were released. The Soviet files showed that all 17 U.S. personnel had died in the crash. In the 1990s their remains were finally returned to the United States.
The National Cryptologic Museum proudly displays the dress uniform owned by Master Sergeant George P. Ptrochilos. The uniform was donated to the museum by his sister.Return to videos