“Bridge of Spies” – A Visit to Beale AFB


Bridge of Spies, the Cold War thriller starring Tom Hanks and directed by Steven Spielberg, is out this week on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. The film tells the story of American attorney James Donovan, who first defended Soviet spy Rudolf Abel and later engineered a trade with the Soviets for captured U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. 

The movie has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mark Rylance’s performance as Abel.


Austin Stowell (right), the actor who portrayed Francis Gary Powers, in the film “Bridge of Spies,” and Francis Gary Powers Jr. (left), pose for a photo at Beale Air Force Base, California, Jan. 21, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bobby Cummings)

To commemorate the release, Disney & Dreamworks organized a press event at Beale Air Force Base, home of the 548th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group and the U-2 spy plane. Actor Austin Stowell (who plays Powers in the movie) and Francis Gary Powers Jr. (founder of the Cold War Museum) joined Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Gilmore (Commander, 99th Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Operations Group, 9th Reconnaissance Wing a/k/a U-2 commander) to talk about the history of the U-2, which has been in continuous service since 1955.

We’ve got a clip from the Blu-ray special features about the role the U-2 plays in the movie:


Lots of people don’t realize that we’re still using the U-2. Lt. Col. Gilmore talked to us about the history and the current program.


Gary Powers Jr talks about his father’s post-military career and Powers and Stowell talk about the importance of teaching the history of the Cold War to a new generation.



Senior Airman Soreya Moun (left), and Senior Airman Christian Mitchell, 9th Physiological Support Squadron full-pressure suit technicians, conduct a suit demonstration for media representatives Jan. 21, 2016, at Beale Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bobby Cummings)

Bridge of Spies is out now. Check back later this week for our interview with the film’s Oscar-nominated screenwriter Matt Charman.


  • BixlerB

    And when the U2 goes in the not so distant future so goes Beale?

    • Don

      Beale will always have a mission. Logistically, it is ideally located and the base has other assets viable to the Air Force’s global mission. I work there amidst some of the very best active duty and civilian personnel the Air Force employs. Although I was in the Army in the post-Vietnam Era, I now proudly serve as a civilian alongside some of the finest soldiers of the 21st Century.

  • Steve Strickland

    The U-2s in the movie are the newer R models. Powers flew the B model. I met him at Davis-Monthan when he ferried a bird from Lockheed back to the unit in Tucson. The camera bay held his clothing. It was fun to see him open it and out dropped his bag. He was in a hurry so there was no time for conversation. Still he shook our hands.

  • John P

    Sadly the Country was angry at Powers for surviving the U-2 shoot down, the opinion was he should have taken the “L” pill rather than be captured by the Russians. This was the Cold War going hot and not a pleasant time in our history.