On October 23rd, Gerald McIlmoyle, author of Remembering the Dragon Lady, will be appearing on PBS’ new film Cuban Missile Crisis – Three Men Go to War.
In this film created by Crossing the Line Productions, the roles of John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, and Fidel Castro during the Cuban Missile crisis are explored. As listed on PBS’ website, “Three Men Go to War explores the roles the three iconic leaders played during some of the most dangerous moments in history, set against the human stories of ordinary men in the field.”
One of these ordinary men is McIlmoyle, who was a former U-2 pilot who flew over Cuba in 1962, and the friend of Major Rudolf Anderson, the only casualty of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Remembering the Dragon Lady contains several recollections from people who have had direct contact with the infamous plane. This includes “pilots, maintenance specialists, a flight surgeon, photographic specialists and family members.”
In one section of the book, McIlmoyle recalls his own experience of flying over Cuba during the crisis:
The Cuban Missile Crisis began for Rudy Anderson, Steve Heyser, Buddy Brown and me on October 11, 1962. Our Wing Commander, Colonel John DesPortes, came to each of our homes at Laughlin AFB. When we made a house call, we knew something was going on and it was extremely urgent. The Colonel told us to pack our bags. We were headed to Edwards AFB, California. The plan was for us to take over the CIA’s three U-2s.
On October 14, Steve Heyser took off from Edwards and flew the first overflight of Cuba. He landed at McCoy AFB, Florida. Steve’s film was immediately flown to Washington, DC for processing. President Kennedy was briefed on the photographic evidence of Soviet Medium Range Nuclear missiles installed in Cuba. The remaining two CIA-U-2s were ferried to McCoy by the CIA pilots. Rudy deployed to MCoy and Buddy and I returned to Laughlin from where we flew our first overflights of Cuba. Buddy and I recovered at McCoy. By October 17, 1962, we had 11 U-2 pilots and 10 U-2 aircraft at McCoy. During those first days, we flew about five overflights of Cuba each day.
On October 25, the Soviets made their first attempt to shoot down my U-2 with two SA-2 missiles launched near Banes, Cuba. I received no signal from any of the warning systems. I wasn’t even aware that I had been fired at until I saw the missile contrails in my rear view mirror. It was a gorgeous day with dark blue sky above a blue-green sea below – those contrails were quite a contrast. I was in my turn north. I looked back over my left wing, and saw the missile condensation trailed all the way back to the ground pointing to the Banes Sa-2 site.
Win a FREE digital copy of Remembering the Dragon Lady from Apple’s iBookstore!
To celebrate the premier of this documentary, we’re giving away five free digital copies of Remembering the Dragon Lady. Winner will be chosen on October 24th.
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