Search NOVA Teachers

Back to Teachers Home

Missing in MiG Alley

Program Overview

PDF

Sabre NOVA explores the world's first jet war, comparing the U.S. Sabre and the North Korean MiG fighter planes and revealing a number of stories regarding pilots who went missing during the Korean War.

The program:

  • recounts how the conflict began and how U.S. forces became involved in the Korean War.

  • states that initially there was no Korean air defense until the Russians supplied Koreans with the MiG-15s.

  • explains that the majority of air fighting took place in a region of airspace known as MiG Alley along the Chinese-North Korean border.

  • notes that the newly developed fighter jets had swept wings that enabled pilots to move at much higher speeds.

  • suggests that the MiG-15 owed its success in part to its Rolls Royce engine, given to the Soviet Union by the British in 1946 as a gesture of friendship to a wartime ally.

  • follows the efforts of families and the U.S. government to find more than 30 missing Sabre pilots.

  • reports that the MiG-15s were being flown by Russian pilots, a fact kept secret by both the United States and Russia to avoid the conflict from escalating into a third world war.

  • interviews surviving pilots who were involved in the conflict, some of whom were captured and interrogated by Koreans, Russians, and Chinese.

  • suggests that the Korean War came down to a competition between the MiG, with more firepower that could climb higher and faster, and the Sabre that could fly farther, with greater control, and was more user-friendly.

  • describes some of the strategies and advantages that the United States had, including the G-suit, radar-ranging gun sight, the four-plane flight formation, and superior training and experience.

  • explains that an American Sabre jet was captured by the Soviets, allowing them to study it and create radar.

  • recounts the end of the war and Russian president Boris Yeltsin's promise 40 years later to return any prisoners of war back to the United States, giving the families of missing pilots renewed hope.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after program is recorded off the air.

Teacher's Guide
Missing in MiG Alley
WATCH A PREVIEW BUY THE VIDEO WATCH THE VIDEO ONLINE PROGRAM OVERVIEW VIEWING IDEAS CLASSROOM ACTIVITY RELATED NOVA RESOURCES INTERACTIVE FOR STUDENTS