Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "pilots" ...

  • Chinook Down

    In May 2007 - an American Chinook helicopter was shot down by insurgents in southern Afghanistan. The crash killed 7-soldiers. NATO officials suggested the helicopter was brought down by small-arms fire. But classified documents released by WikiLeaks reported the helicopter had been "engaged and struck with a missile," suggesting the Taliban had effectively used a heat-seeking surface-to-air missile - a significant development not publicly disclosed before. Alex Quade, a freelance television reporter, was supposed to be on that helicopter, covering a battalion-size air assault mission involving Special Forces, 1/508th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. But at the last minute, Quade lost her seat to 2-public affairs officers. She survived to report firsthand on the recovery, including a fierce firefight, and interviewed pilots who reported seeing a missile streaking into the sky and striking the Chinook. Over the years, Quade continued to gather material about the attack on the helicopter, interviewing pilots who provided air support to rescue teams on the ground, obtaining previously unreleased Pentagon documents, via FOIA appeals, and collecting video from soldiers and pilots on the scene. The result of her investigation is a 10-minute video for NYT.com. It is Ms. Quade's Memorial Day tribute to the soldiers she was embedded with, and nearly died with, and a look at the effects of PTSD.
  • The F-22’s Fatal Flaws

    For more than a year and a half the Brian Ross Unit investigated the potentially deadly design flaws hidden in the crown jewel of the U.S. Air Force, the F-22 Raptor, the most expensive fighter plane in history. Digital reporter Lee Ferran and editor Mark Schone produced more than 30 web reports or blogs, starting with the story of the death of a gifted pilot and mid-air scares for dozens more, and then digging into the Pentagon’s dangerous policy of letting pilots fly planes it knew were broken. The Ross team uncovered a document showing the Air Force was aware of serious design flaws in its prize plane, and its web pieces questioned whether the service valued the reputation of a troubled $79 billion weapons system more than the safety of its airmen. Part of the investigation challenged the Air Force’s conclusion that the death of F-22 pilot Capt. Jeff Haney was his own fault. The Air Force blamed Haney even though his plane suffered a catastrophic malfunction just seconds before he crashed. The online series was so powerful that both “Nightline” and “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” asked the Ross team to prepare reports for broadcast as well. On May 2, 2012, in an exclusive interview that appeared both on-air and online, Haney’s sister, Jennifer, said that she suspected the Air Force was tarnishing her brother’s memory to keep heat off the flawed plane. After the ABC News online reports about the crash, the Pentagon’s Inspector General’s office announced it planned to review the Air Force’s investigation – the first major crash review by the IG in more than a decade. For years, the Air Force had also been contending with another mysterious and possibly deadly flaw in the F-22 -- one that randomly caused pilots to experience symptoms of oxygen deprivation. It wasn’t until ABC News began asking questions, however, that Defense Secretary Panetta was forced to address the issue publicly. The Air Force repeatedly declined Ferran’s on-camera interview requests, but said it was his dogged attempts that pushed the service to give press briefings on the plane’s problems. Finally, the investigation uncovered a 12-year-old internal document that revealed the Air Force had long been aware of one of the plane’s potentially deadly design flaws but had neglected to fix it. In 2012, under public scrutiny inspired by the Ross team’s reporting, the Air Force addressed the flaw, and made another adjustment designed to protect pilots. Since then it has reported no further oxygen deprivation incidents.
  • Blackwater 61

    The story investigates the plane crash that killed six people in Afghanistan, including three American servicemen. The flight should have been routine, even insignificant. A cockpit voice recorded revealed incompetence among the pilots involved.
  • DUI Pilots: Warning Signs Ignored

    KIRO-TV found that only a small fraction of the pilots caught for abusing alcohol or drugs were actually being monitored by federal regulators. The reporter discovered with computed assisted reporting how easy it is for these pilots to manipulate the system and avoid detection.
  • Flying Cheap

    The February 2009 crash of Continental Flight 3407 revealed "a little-known trend in the airline industry: major airlines have outsourced more and more of their flights to obscure regional carriers." These smaller carriers operate with different safety practices with pilots that are often paid less, with less training and fewer flight hours.
  • Under the Radar

    Every year the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been given a grant, which then will be distributed to airports. The question is where does this money come from and how is it spent? The answer to the first half is the commercial-airline passengers, who pay the ticket taxes which in turn becomes the grant. The second part of the question is answered by not the improvement of airline travel, but rather the private pilots who fly corporate and recreational planes.
  • Fatal Flying on Airlines No Accident in Aviator Complaint to FAA

    Florida aviation company, Gulfstream, is found to have lax pilot training standards as well as relaxed policies on aircraft fitness for flight. Death and accidents have occurred due to the neglect and Gulfstream's pilots are prevalent in the airline industry.
  • 9/11 Redux: Thousands of Aliens' in U.S. Flight School Illegally

    This investigation exposed the fact that thousands of foreign national were still obtaining U.S. pilot training and U.S pilot licenses illegally without the required security background checks implemented after the 9-11 terrorists attacks. The story exposed serious flaws in the TSA and FAA system of insuring pilots had successfully done in obtaining piloting skills in the USA prior to the September 11 attacks of 2001.
  • Tired Pilots

    "This is an investigation of the prevalence of fatigue among pilots at regional airlines, its effects, and the failure of airlines and the FAA to do anything about it."
  • Deadly Express

    In a 9-month investigation, The Miami Herald uncovered inaccuracies in the government's reporting of the frequency of fatal cargo plane crashes. Through the analysis of extensive government documents dating back to 2000, the reporters found that 69 planes have crashed claiming the lives of 85 people, thus "making air cargo the nation's deadliest form of commercial aviation." Despite this fact, pleas to apply more stringent safety regulations on cargo flights have been ignored. Worse yet, when these lax safety standards result in fatal crashes, the pilots are often saddled with the blame.