On September 1, 1983, Korean Airlines Flight 007 accidently strayed into the Soviet Union’s airspace and was shot down by a Soviet Su-15 Interceptor, falling into the Sea of Japan and killing 269 passengers and crew, including about two dozen children and U.S. Congressman Larry McDonald. Ridiculously, the Soviets initially denied it, but later claimed the commercial airplane flew into prohibited airspace on a spy mission. Of course, evidence, including the recording between the Soviets pilots and the ground, proved otherwise. The commercial airplane became a causality of the Cold War.
While nothing good can come directly from such a tragedy, there was an indirect opportunity to minimize this sort of pilot error from reoccurring. In that same year, President Ronald Reagan signed an executive order allowing commercial and civilian use of the government’s evolving Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) network. That decision allowed commercial airlines from all over the world to have “free use” of the satellite network for accurate navigation. The U.S. Air Force has the responsibility for the system and its upgrades.