Welcome to the Spyflight Website

Canberra PR3 From Below Left Firstly, it might be worth explaining exactly what this website contains and what it aims to achieve. Back in Jan 99 when I first began the outline plan for the site, I intended to concentrate entirely on reconnaissance activity in the early Cold War period. However, as things developed there seemed little point in covering that period alone, so instead I expanded the site to include all post-war intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. In addition, I decided to include all post war aircraft which had or have the abiliy to gather intelligence, AEW aircraft, UAV's, Recce Pods, Losses, Recce aircraft that were cancelled or not developed and finally a look at what the future might hold. I know I haven't included every aircraft yet, but hopefully I'll manage it eventually. Any factual errors are entirely my responsibility and I would welcome visitors informing me where they believe I have got it wrong.

So what exactly is a ‘Spyflight’ and this is not meant to be an emotive term for the activity undertaken, it is simply the easiest and most recognisable. Perhaps it would be simpler to divide this broad description into two specific categories an ‘overflight’ and ‘border flight’. The most appropriate definition of an ‘overflight’ was given by R.Cargill Hall in his article ‘The Truth About Military Reconnaissance Flights over Russia before the U-2’ published in the Spring 1997 edition of the Journal of Military History:

‘An overflight is a flight by a government aircraft that, expressly on the direction of the head of state, traverses the territory of another state in peacetime without that other states permission’.

A ‘border flight’ can be defined as:

‘An overt or covert flight along the boundaries, but clear of, the territory of another state for the purposes of obtaining photographic and/or electronic information'. Throughout thr cold war the USAF refered to these sorties as the Peacetime Airborne Reconnaissance Program (PARPRO).

As well as describing all post WW2 reconnaissance aircraft, their roles, equipment, UAV's and a look at what the future might hold, this website has another, more specific aim.
It looks back at Cold War aerial reconnaissance and aims to provide:
  • A greater understanding of what flights took place, where they took place from and how/why they were conducted.
  • Where possible and appropriate, public recognition for the individuals involved, acknowledging their bravery and skill.
  • Where possible a record of the aircraft involved and what subsequently happened to each airframe.
  • Eventually, possibly an open forum for comments, suggestions and discussion on cold war reconnaissance activity in general.
  • Links to related aviation sites, bookshops and magazines, as well as some other interesting sites on the Internet.
All of the information on this site has been obtained from public sources and is freely available to anyone willing to spend the time digging around through books, magazine articles and on occasions, de-classified files. If you’re looking for secret details on classified sorties that are still subject to the UK Official Secrets Act, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Nevertheless, there should be sufficient detail in these pages to attract the attention of anyone with an interest in military aviation in general and reconnaissance activity in particular.

It would be completely remiss of me not to freely acknowledge the considerable assistance provided by the following:

Paul Lashmar author of ‘Spyflights of the Cold War’ for permission to quote freely from his excellent book and the loan of various photographs. Paul's book was the original inspiration for the site.

Chris Pocock author of ‘Dragon Lady’, ‘The U-2 Spyplane - towards the unknown’ and 50 Years of the U-2 - the complete illustrated history of the 'Dragon Lady' for permission to quote from all three publications, for the loan of background material, photographs and finally for his continued help, encouragement and advice.

This website is dedicated to the servicemen and women of all nationalities who lost their lives since the end of World War 2 whilst engaged in activities in support of their countries national interests.

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to The Spyflight Website since 1 Jan 03

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