FGP was much closer to being classified as a spy than a pilot. Granted the U2 was difficult to fly at cruise his real job was to guard the secrets entrusted to him. He failed miserably and gave Dwight a big black eye.
More interesting is to compare Dwight’s behavior when behind the eight ball to our current White House Occupier in his time of trouble. In fact you can’t compare them. Dwight was much more of a man.
Understatement of the year.
His primary job was as a pilot. He was NOT expected to kill himself, never was required, either.
From: Memorandum of Discussion at the 445th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, May 24, 1960.
“Secretary Gates asked whether the pilot of the U-2 had been briefed to tell the truth if he were captured. Mr. Dulles said the pilot had been told to reveal whatever he himself knew, including the fact that he worked for CIA.”
FGP acted honorable and with courage given the situation, expectations and circumstances.
Given that Americans don't exist to improve the stature of any national equivalent of the Man on a White Horse, it's not clear that this is such a big moral defect on Powers's part. If Ike blamed Powers for not killing himself, then he was asking for something far above and beyond what we asked of combat troops in WWII. Imagine the national furor and the impact on morale if bomber crews over Berlin or Tokyo had been asked to kill themselves to avoid revealing operational secrets in the event of imminent capture.