292. National Security Action Memorandum No. 1281


  • The Secretary of State


  • Response to Soviet Action Regarding Air Corridors

The President has approved the recommendations in your memorandum of February 14th2 on Response to Soviet Action Regarding Air Corridors. Since there has been a little confusion in the White House with respect to the precise meaning of your recommendations, I wish to restate what the President understands that he has approved, as follows:

That the State Department is authorized to seek Ambassadorial Group agreement to delegate to General Norstad authority
to urge the civil airlines to fly over 10,000 feet if the Soviets seek by declaration to prevent all flights below 10,000 feet, and if, as a result, the civil airlines are unwilling to fly below that limit; and
to fly civil aircraft (initially without passengers) with military pilots over 10,000 feet, if the civil airlines decline to fly either above or below 10,000 feet. (General Norstad already has authority also to fly civil aircraft with military crews below 10,000 feet, if the civil airlines decline to do so.)
That U.S. approval of this authority is being communicated to General Norstad, although his exercise of the authority will be dependent upon British and French concurrence, since in these matters he is acting as a Live Oak commander under tripartite instructions.

McGeorge Bundy 3
  1. Source: Department of State, NSAMs: Lot 72 D 316, NSAM 128. Secret. Copies were sent to McNamara, Taylor, Lemnitzer, McCone, and the Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board.
  2. In this 2-page memorandum Rusk reviewed the history of Western policy on flying above 10,000 feet in the air corridors and asked for Presidential authorization for the recommendations in this NSAM. (Ibid.)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.