The U.S. And USSR Agreed To End The Cold War... If Aliens Attacked
During the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union competed in everything from space to missiles to boxing. We'd compare it to a dick-measuring contest, but considering that LBJ was involved, it probably wasn't limited to mere comparison.
There was one arena in which the two powers had no desire to compete, however: alien invasion. If little gray dudes came down from the heavens, Rocky and Drago would've torn off their partisan shorts, linked arms, and started throwing joint haymakers up at the sky.
This is absolutely not a joke.
In a 2009 interview, Mikhail Gorbachev revealed that during the 1985 Geneva Peace Summit, he and Ronald Reagan were taking a walk around the gardens when Reagan threw out something that'd clearly been bothering him for some time: "'What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?' I said, 'No doubt about it.' He said, 'We too.'"
That's right, ladies and gents. If the peace summit the two were attending didn't work out, their next-best hope was a full-scale alien attack. We should point out that this wasn't some crazy fever dream of Reagan's, just a case of him taking his hobby waaaay too far. Reagan was a huge sci-fi nerd, a love that stemmed from a childhood spent reading books like the John Carter series. This eventually resulted not only in him staffing a space policy think tank with astronauts, engineers, and sci-fi writers such as Robert Heinlein, but also in the creation of a missile defense program named after the most popular sci-fi franchise of the day.
We Somehow Lost A Spy Plane Over The USSR ... During The Cuban Missile Crisis
If the Cold War was a simmering pot of rage, the Cuban Missile Crisis represents the point when all the starch foam from your mac 'n' cheese boils over and burns on the stove top.
Yet somehow, in the midst of all that, one bumbling spy plane blundered into Soviet territory and nearly kick-started a war.
On October 27, 1962, a U-2 piloted by Captain Charles Maultsby took off from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. As part of Project Star Dust, Maultsby's mission was simple: Fly headlong into clouds that drifted away from Soviet nuclear testing sites and sample them for radioactive particles, which could then be used to ascertain Soviet nuclear capabilities.
U.S. Air ForcePretty much all military projects in the '60s sounded like superhero origin setups.
Maultsby never made it that far. Thanks to a combination of difficult-to-read celestial conditions (pilots in those days still used the stars to navigate), the awkwardness of the U-2, and plain bad luck, he unknowingly went off-course and entered USSR airspace -- an incursion which triggered the launch of six interceptor jets.