When Aviation Week Was Accused of Treason -- The Back Story Revealed

by Joe Anselmo
Aug 26, 2016

Our posting earlier this week about the uproar over Aviation Week’s 1957 revelation that the U.S. was tracking Soviet missile launches from a secret radar in Turkey received a lot of attention — and unearthed the story behind the scoop.

Craig Covault, a longtime space editor who joined the magazine in 1972, says the story had been written by Phil Klass, Aviation Week’s legendary avionics editor. “Phil showed me this story in the early 1970s and confided to me that it was input from Geoff Perry at the Kettering Grammar School in the UK that kicked off the stateside reporting,” Covault wrote to me this week.  Perry was the well-known satellite tracker who would later be credited with discovering the top secret Soviet Plesetsk launch site. 

“The mild-mannered Geoff had deep ties with both U.S. and UK intel – as well as the sleuthing of his own students,” says Covault. “Phil said Geoff passed along that a radar in Turkey was doing important space intel tracking, so Phil dug into it further.”

Klass’s piece caused an uproar and prompted a national security advisor to President Dwight D. Eisenhower to accuse Aviation Week of treason and urge advertisers to boycott the magazine. Says Covault: “Phil laughed hard when he related to me that the “reason” had been kicked off by Perry’s school kids in the UK.”

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