On September 1, 1983, a Soviet fighter plane shot down an international Korean Airlines Flight 007 as it flew without authorization over the Soviet Union’s airspace. The passenger liner crashed into the sea near the island of Sakhalin, killing all 269 passengers and crew on board.
The Boeing 747 was flying from New York to Seoul via Anchorage on its routine course, but as it approached its final destination, it began to change direction. In a short time the plane flew into Russian airspace, way off its normal course.
As it crossed over Kamchatka, approaching one of the USSR’s most militarily sensitive regions, the liner was detected by the Soviet ground force. An SU-15 interception jet was sent to investigate the “intruder aircraft”. After the jet had tried to make contact with the unidentified aircraft but failed to receive a response, the pilot was ordered to destroy it.
This horrific incident at the height of the Cold War era brought the world to the edge of catastrophe. The Reagan administration publicly condemned the shoot down as “an act of barbarism”, calling it the “Korean Airlines massacre”, a “crime against humanity that must never be forgotten”. Russia was named the “Evil Empire”, pushing relations between the US and the Soviet Union to a new low.
Several days after the incident, Soviet officials reported that the Russian pilots had no way of knowing that the aircraft was a civilian one at the time. Soon after, a Soviet military official stated that the violation of the Soviet border was a provocation by the US, and that the Korean flight was involved in espionage activities.
In 1993, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) concluded that the Boeing 747 had entered the Soviet airspace due to an error in the plane's navigation equipment and was consequently shot down because it was mistaken for a spy plane.
However, many questions regarding the disaster remain unanswered to this day. It’s still unclear why an experienced Korean pilot (with 10,627 hours flight time), flying an aircraft equipped with the latest technology, failed to check if his actual location matched the control points. It is unknown why the ground service responsible for the New York-Seoul flight didn’t take any measures to bring the Boeing back on to its routine course, as well as failing to warn the Soviet base about the “lost” airplane. There have also been suggestions that there weren’t any passengers on board when the plane crashed, since only a single body was discovered the wreckage.
The series of odd unexplainable facts, unconfirmed or subjective evidence give good grounds for doubts and alternative theories as to what really happened on that day. A French aviation expert, Michel Brun, revealed ten years of personal research in a book titled “Incident at Sakhalin: The True Mission of KAL Flight 007”. The book demolishes the official story and establishes that, as the Korean Boeing 747 approached the Russian island of Sakhalin, so too did a number of US military and reconnaissance aircraft in an ill-conceived intelligence and provocation operation.