The early 1960s were a period of traumatic political upheaval for the Republic of the Congo. As a civil war raged that ultimately claimed the lives of an estimated 100,000 people, America was particularly concerned with what would happen to the more than 3,000 Western missionaries scattered throughout the region. The decision was ultimately made to begin flying reconnaissance flights over the African nation, looking for signs of the missionaries and keeping tabs on the unfolding conflict.

One incident of note was recounted in 1979 in the CIA’s internal publication, Studies in Intelligence, though the event itself had been classified as “Secret, Not for Foreign Dissemination” until 2005. Despite being declassified, the story and accompanying image didn’t make its way into the public’s purview by and large until earlier this year, when the website Muchrock uncovered it during a deep dive into the interesting tidbits one can now glean from the CIA’s expansive Freedom of Information Archive.

The flight in question took place during the early planning stages of a rescue operation that was being mounted to save a mixed group of American and European hostages being held in what is now called Kisangani, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When the aircraft returned and the pictures were analyzed, one shot caught the interest of CIA Deputy Director General Marshall S. Carter, as it appeared to show a single Congolese civilian attempting to hit the reconnaissance plane with a spear.

Declassified CIA photo shows African civilian throwing spear at low-flying US recon plane in the '60s