Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Incident at Cortez

This remarkable story is a little off-topic for this blog, but it involves a U-2 spy plane, a pilot from the Republic of China, the US Air Force, and an incident in a small city in Southwest Colorado fifty years ago. I never heard the story until today when I received a note from Lloyd Evans at the Taiwan Veterans Badge of Honor Association.

The captivating Cold War saga centers on then Major Hsichan Mike Hua ROCAF (Ret), an intrepid Taiwan pilot who landed his disabled CIA U-2 at the Cortez, Colorado, airfield the night of August 3, 1959. General Hua returned to Cortez this past August on the anniversary date of his flight to speak at the observance held in his honor.

The general and his wife prepared a video Christmas card this year that includes the complete story of how he ended up at the controls of the U-2 and the circumstances surrounding his unscheduled visit to Colorado. It's a fascinating bit of history that I'd heard nothing about. The video is several minutes long but it's well worth taking the time to watch. You can view it HERE.


Stev said...

It is a fascinating story and maybe not as off-topic as you think. Here are part of my comments in your posting of May 13, 2008, titled "Another MIG."

"One of the photo lab's functions was processing aerial reconnaissance film. In the spring of 1960, Lt. Colonel Tinsley walked into the lab proudly pointing to a spot in the middle of a print he was carrying. The spot was flying at well above 40,000 feet and whatever took the picture was way above that. Because it was a long time ago, I may be mixing my MIGs, but I think he said it was a MIG-21. In any case, it was the first evidence they had that a MIG of that generation was flying in Communist China."

I wonder if General Hua was flying the plane that took the picture.

TAP said...

No, it couldn't be General Hua because ROCAF flew its first U-2 mission on Jan 13, 1962.

Bryan said...

It was Major Hua back in 1959 for U-2 training out of Texas.

Various related news reports, video and original US Air Force Magazine report on "Miracle At Cortez" incident...

Bryan said...

In 1960, ROCAF would be flying RB-57A/D for high altitude recon missions, that suffered 2 aircraft shotdown in late 50s/early 60s by MiG-17/19. Thus bring in U-2 for that high altitude recon missions.