'Bridge Of Spies' Plane Crash Scene Is The Craziest Part Of The Whole, Wild Movie

When you've directed over 30 movies, you'd be forgiven for not having too much imagination left in your pocket. Not Steven Spielberg, though; despite Bridge of Spies (out Oct. 16) being the latest of a looong list of films on his resume, the Cold War thriller is just as jam-packed with as much suspense, drama, and holy-crap-how-did-that-happen stunts as any of the director's best-known films. Just take Bridge of Spies ' plane crash scene, when U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers' U-2 spy plane is shot down over Soviet territory and he's forced to eject himself into the sky below. It's an incredible, nerve-wracking scene, and it'll convince anyone who wrongly thinks Spielberg is losing his touch that the director's filmmaking is just as powerful as ever.

But how did the crazy scene — in which Powers' plane is shot several time and nearly explodes, forcing him to leave it in a parachute while falling down to Earth — actually come to happen? Neither Spielberg nor the others involved in Bridge of Spies' making have said much about the effects and stunts used to make that scene possible, although once the movie is released, there might be more information coming our way. Judging by the scene, which can be viewed in part during the film's trailer, it looks like it was created using a combination of special effects, major CGI, and a truly fearless stuntman.

But how does it compare to the actual plane crash, which took place on May 1, 1960? In an interview with The Daily Mail, Powers' son, Gary, spoke about the truth behind the events, as told to him by his father. While flying above Soviet territory in order to take photos for the U.S., Powers (played in the film by Austin Stowell) reportedly saw a bright flash — the shots to his plane — and suddenly found himself spinning downwards, according to Gary. His father, he claims, tried to eject himself, but was unable to; eventually, he unhooked his harness and fell out. Once in the sky, his parachute opened, and he flew down to land, finally crashing on a farm. There, he was met by Russians, and was soon flown to Moscow for interrogation.

Although Powers died in 1977 and can't attest to how well the movie depicts these events, his son's claims seem to correspond fairly well with Bridge of Spies' version. In the film, Powers is flying his plane without issue when its suddenly hit several times, causing it to spin out of control and break apart. He tries to eject himself and let the plane destruct, but is unable to reach the controls; as a result, he unhooks himself and falls out, opening his parachute as he spins. While the movie doesn't show his landing or capture, it's presumed he lands safely (despite the plane clearly being destroyed overhead), before being taken to interrogation. The next time we see him, he's standing trial and being sentenced to years of imprisonment for espionage.


Bridge of Spies is not a movie built on stunts or action; it's mostly a crime drama that has more to do with the quiet drama of courtrooms than the craziness of fight scenes or special effects. That's what makes scenes like the plane crash all the more striking, and what makes the movie all the more powerful.

Image: Walt Disney Studios; Giphy