Interview around May of 1983 approximately 4 months before his flight was shot down by Soviet fighters. McDonald was the only U.S. congressman ever killed by the Soviets during the Cold War. North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms and Idaho Senator Steve Symms, both Republicans, were scheduled to fly to Seoul on KAL 007, but instead flew on KAL 015 which, with KAL 007, stopped at Anchorage airport for refueling before the next leg of the trip to Seoul (Shootdown, R.W. Johnson, Viking Penguin, New York, N.Y. 1986, pg. 3-4).
The Washington based Federal Aviation Administration informed McDonald’s press aid that their Japanese counterpart organization, the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau had informed them that KAL 007 had made a safe landing on Sakhalin and “it is confirmed by the Manifest that Congressman McDonald is on board”. Within a few short hours, this had been broadcast by the media, only to have, within another few short hours, the media broadcasting that all passengers and crew had perished in an explosion over the waters off Sakhalin and subsequent crash in the sea.