That time a Soviet bomber crashed into the sea after buzzing a U.S. aircraft carrier

Low pass with a deadly ending.

Low passages of Russian planes on U.S. Navy warships (and vice versa) are somehow frequent as the recent flybys of Russian Su-24 Fencer bombers on USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea prove.

Usually, such “shows of force” are uneventful, however, about 50 years ago, a close encounter at sea had a deadly ending.

On May 25, 1968 a Soviet Badger-F aircraft flew some very low flybys close to USN carrier USS Essex in the Norwegian sea.

After the last pass, the aircraft, piloted by Colonel Andrey Pliyev, stalled and crashed into the sea.

According to “Cold War Warriors” the footage was considered classified by the Soviets and never shown in Russia until 2008.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. You’ve got to love it, the camera is looking down on the top of that Badger’s wings, and the camera is plainly on the flight deck, or only slightly above it judging by the camera level of the A-1 cowl. That Badger pilot was one of those bold pilots who never got old. What a waste.

  2. In fact this video is still “top secret” in Russia. The footage shown by Russian television in 2008 is from US Congress Library ;-)

  3. and you have absolutely nothing to say??? What were the rumous as to why it crashed? Did the Essex fire upon it? Were its flybys considered aggressive? Were you guys scared? Did you wee your pants? How loud was it? Were you ordered to general stations?

    Did the Essex rescue the pilot? Did they recover the aircraft? Come on man, give us the low down!

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