TDISH: Yet Another Cold War Tragedy

On September 1, 1983, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 took off from Seoul on a flight to New York City via Anchorage, Alaska.  Early on its flight, KAL-007 deviated from course and flew over Soviet airspace near Sakhalin Island off the eastern coast of Siberia.  Exactly what happened next is uncertain, but what we do know if that shortly later the plane had been attacked by fighter planes of the Soviet Air Force causing KAL-007 to crash into the Sea of Japan, killing all 269 people on board.  Among the victims was a Congressman from Georgia, Larry McDonald.  American and South Korean authorities immediately placed the blame squarely on the Soviets – claiming that no warning was given to the stricken airliner.  The Soviets, on the other hand, claimed that a warning was issued and that the plane had been engaged in espionage.  In 1992, the black box recordings from the crash were released and failed to clarify any of the main underlying factors.  What was KAL-007 doing in Soviet airspace?  It was over 300 miles off course.  Nothing on the recordings clarifies this issue.  Without the plane being too close to Sakhalin Island this tragedy would have been avoided.

Featured Image: “Korean Air Lines Boeing 747.” By Ted Quackenbush – Gallery page, GFDL 1.2.
Source: Bohlen, Celestine. “Tape Displays the Anguish On Jet the Soviets Downed.” New York Times. 16 October 1992.

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