Korean Air Lines Flight 007 facts for kids

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Korean Air Lines Flight 007
1981-09-15 12-00-00 United States Hawaii Aliamanu 2.JPG
HL7442, the aircraft that was shot down, at Honolulu in 1981. The aircraft in front of it crashed as Centurion Air Cargo Flight 164 25 years later.
Shootdown
Date 1 September 1983
Summary Shot down by the Soviet military after navigation error by KAL pilots
Site Sea of Japan, near Moneron Island, west of Sakhalin Island, Soviet Union
46°34′N 141°17′E / 46.567°N 141.283°E / 46.567; 141.283 (KAL007)Coordinates: 46°34′N 141°17′E / 46.567°N 141.283°E / 46.567; 141.283 (KAL007)
Aircraft
Aircraft type Boeing 747-230B
Operator Korean Air Lines
Registration HL7442
Flight origin John F. Kennedy International Airport,
New York City, New York, U.S.
Stopover Anchorage International Airport,
Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.
Destination Gimpo International Airport,
Gangseo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Passengers 246
Crew 23
Fatalities 269
Survivors 0

Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (also known as KAL007 and KE007) was a scheduled Korean Air Lines flight from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska. On 1 September 1983, the South Korean airliner serving the flight was shot down by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor. The Boeing 747 airliner was en route from Anchorage to Seoul, but deviated from its original planned route and flew through Soviet prohibited airspace about the time of a U.S. aerial reconnaissance mission.

The Soviet Air Forces treated the unidentified aircraft as an intruding U.S. spy plane, and proceeded to destroy it with air-to-air missiles, after firing warning shots which were likely not seen by the KAL pilots. The Korean airliner eventually crashed in the sea near Moneron Island west of Sakhalin in the Sea of Japan. All 269 passengers and crew aboard were killed, including Larry McDonald, a United States Representative from Georgia. The Soviets found the wreckage under the sea on September 15, and found the flight recorders in October, but this information was kept secret until 1993.

At the time of the attack, the plane had been cruising at an altitude of about 35,000 feet (11,000 m). Tapes recovered from the airliner's cockpit voice recorder indicate that the crew were unaware that they were off course and violating Soviet airspace.

The Soviet Union initially denied knowledge of the incident, but later admitted shooting down the aircraft, claiming that it was on a MASINT spy mission. The Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union said it was a deliberate provocation by the United States to probe the Soviet Union's military preparedness, or even to provoke a war.

The White House accused the Soviet Union of obstructing search and rescue operations. The Soviet Armed Forces suppressed evidence sought by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) investigation, such as the flight recorders, which were released eight years later, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The incident was one of the most tense moments of the Cold War and resulted in an escalation of anti-Soviet sentiment, particularly in the United States.

As a result of the incident, the United States altered tracking procedures for aircraft departing from Alaska. The interface of the autopilot used on airliners was redesigned to make it more ergonomic. In addition, the incident was one of the most important events that prompted the Reagan administration to allow worldwide access to the United States Global Positioning System (GPS).

Korean Air still flies from New York JFK International Airport to Seoul. However, the flight no longer stops at Anchorage or flies to Gimpo International Airport as it now flies directly to Incheon International Airport. Flight number 007 has been retired since.

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