By Hailey Lawrence
Former Air Force pilot Col. LaVerne Griffin, who flew secret missions during the Korean War and Cold War, will talk about how his military overflights helped ease tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union on Thursday, August 16, at 7 p.m. in the EAA Aviation Museum.
Griffin, Milwaukee native, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in August 1946 and graduated pilot training in June 1948. He began flying in surveillance overflights in the Korean War in 1953. During that time, Griffin flew RF-80 and RF-86 aircraft while on tour, which he made the deepest top-secret overflight ever recorded by a single-engine jet.
In 1954, Griffin was ordered by President Eisenhower to conduct intelligence-gathering overflights. He played a key role in selecting pilots and planning missions, including leading the first three overflights over Soviet territory. He received a Distinguished Flying Cross for those missions all flown within a 30-day period.
Griffin was the only pilot to have made military overflights over denied territory during the Korean War and the Cold War and the intelligence gained through those missions revealed that there was no nuclear threat from the Far East, which ultimately eased the tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
Griffin continued his military service during the Vietnam War where he continued to fly RF-4C aircraft in Thailand, completing 152 combat missions, before retiring from the Air Force in 1974.
The presentation will take place in the Founder’s Wing at the EAA Aviation Museum at 7 p.m. Admission is free for EAA members and $5 for non-members.
The EAA Aviation Adventure Speaker Series brings interesting personalities from throughout the aviation community to Oshkosh to tell their unique flying experiences.