History of Aviation Accident Investigations in U.S.

The government's bureau for investigating aviation mishaps and safety problems rested originally with the Civil Aeronautics Board Bureau of Aviation Safety. In most areas and most crashes, the investigators perform admirably. The politically appointed Board members—most of whom have been aviation ignorant—have repeatedly engaged in serious misconduct by covering up the behind-the-scene enabling causes that are corrupt actions, or have some negative political consequences. These cover-ups continue the crash-enabling causes, enabling a continuation of aviation disasters and deaths.

In 1967, after a major aviation scandal amidst a series of repeated airline disasters, Congress eliminated the CAB and moved the personnel into the newly formed National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The reason for the sudden changed was never revealed to the public. This site explains what happened, and also the dark side in the history of the political NTSB Board members.
(See also www.defraudingamerica.com/ntsb_deadly_secrets.)

Procedure When Aviation Accident Occurs

When an airline accident occurs, it is the responsibility of the NTSB to investigate. (The only time when the NTSB is not the primary investigative agency is when the crash is obviously the result of a criminal act.) The investigative team is composed of the following groups:

HUMAN PERFORMANCE: Responsible for the study of crew performance and all before-the-accident factors that might be involved in human error, including fatigue, medication, alcohol, drugs, medical histories, training, workload, equipment design and work environment.

OPERATIONS: Responsible for determining the history of the accident flight and crewmembers' duties for as many days prior to the crash as appears relevant.

STRUCTURES:  Responsible for documenting the airframe wreckage and the accident scene, including calculation of impact angles to help determine the plane's pre-impact course and attitude.

POWERPLANTS:  Responsible for examining the engines (and propellers) and engine accessories.

SYSTEMS:  Responsible for studying the components of the plane's hydraulic, electrical, pneumatic and associated systems, together with instruments and elements of the flight control system.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: Responsible for reconstruction of the air traffic services given the plane, including acquisition of ATC radar data and transcripts of controller-pilot radio transmissions.

WEATHER:  Responsible for gathering all pertinent weather data from the National Weather Service, and sometimes from local TV stations, for a broad area around the accident scene.

SURVIVAL FACTORS:  Responsible for documenting the impact forces and injuries, evacuation, community emergency planning and all crash-fire-rescue efforts.

Qualifications of NTSB Personnel

NTSB investigators—as distinct from the politically-appointed members of the Board—have experience in their respective duties. Engine performance, structure analysis, air traffic operations, are fairly straight forward. Basic piloting knowledge comes from the general aviation experience of many of the NTSB performance investigators. The lack of former well-experienced airline check pilots results in some degradation in understanding.

The Board members are political appointees, and rarely have any meaningful, if any,  aviation background. NTSB investigators often remark about how their professional findings are sometimes ignored or contradicted by the Board members, especially when political considerations come into play, such as the need to protect misconduct by another government agency. That problem had frequently been stated to FAA airline safety inspector Rodney Stich by NTSB  investigators. When this happens, crash enabling safety problems continue, and crashes and deaths are enabled by the prior cover-up.

Petitions to NTSB to Provide Evidence
Relating to Accidents or Safety Problems

The NTSB is required to not only investigate aviation crashes, but also to investigate safety problems. The law provides for anyone with information on the direct or enabling cause of an aviation mishap to petition the NTSB Board to provide information that is either unknown to the NTSB, or beyond the competency of NTSB personnel to understand. Also, to receive information on air safety problems.

A number of such offers to provide material information related to an aviation crash that the NTSB didn't know about, or failedor refusedto investigate or include in its official report, have occurred throughout the history of the NTSB or its predecessor agency. Sometimes to cover up and protect a particular group. When that happens, the law provides for the filing of a petition to the NTSB. If the NTSB continues to block the offered information, then the law provides for filing a federal action, seeking a court order for the NTSB to receive the information or evidence.

FAA Inspector Reporting Aviation Safety
Misconduct to Civil Aeronautics Board

In the 1960s, when airline crashes were a frequent event, FAA airline safety inspector Rodney Stich reported to the Civil Aeronautics Board massive misconduct at a major airlines that resulted in a continuing series of airline crashes and deaths.

During an initial telephone call to CAB Board member Donald Madole, Madole responded that he knew of  the problems—but had done nothing about them. Stich then followed with written details, including numerous FAA documents. Madole responded in an August 18, 1965, letter, falsely claiming that no safety problem existed in the FAA. His letter stated in part:

The allegations relating to dangerous safety practices within the Federal Aviation Agency have been reviewed. ... The allegations and charges of improper safety practices in the Federal Aviation Agency do not appear to be substantiated by factual date described in the correspondence and brief. Your conclusion that FAA practices [conduct] have caused [enabled] aircraft accidents cannot be accepted without specific proof thereof.

Another CAB Board member, John W. Dregge, Director, Community and Congressional Affairs, responded to an inquiry by Congressman Roy McVicker, in an August 26, 1965 letter, that stated in part:

A hearing was conducted [by FAA inspector Rodney Stich] of some 2,500 pages of transcript and over 200 exhibits were introduced at that proceeding. On the basis of information available to us at this time, we have been unable to substantiate his allegations relating to safety hazards.

These statements had life-or-death consequences if false. They were made despite:

  • A long series of aviation disasters had been occurring, several on the airline for which Stich had direct aviation safety responsibilities (United Airlines).

  • Mid-level FAA management had been so concerned about the safety problems and crashes that they gave Stich the specific assignment to correct the massive safety problems at United Airlines, including internal problems within the FAA that prevented correction of these problems.

  • Stich had a vast aviation background, and numerous commendations for his aviation activities, more than virtually anyone within the FAA, and far more than any of the CAB/NTSB Board members or investigators. (See www.defraudingamerica.com/stich_credibility.)

  • Three back-to-back fatal crashes had recently occurred, each one enabled to occur by the same major safety problems, safety frauds, and criminal misconduct that Stich had repeatedly reported in writing.

  • Stich had introduced numerous official reports into an ongoing FAA administrative hearing showing massive safety misconduct within the FAA and at a politically-powerful major airline (United Airlines).

  • In an earlier telephone conversation, CAB Donald Madole had admitted knowing of serious safety problems within the FAA and the area that Stich had discovered during his official investigative duties.

  • Most of the CAB/NTSB Board members had little or no aviation experience. The CAB/NTSB investigators had little actual airline experience and, what they had were mostly general aviation background.

Both of these Board members were involved in blatant lying, covering up for hardcore violations of major safety requirements, and even criminal acts, associated with specific airline disasters and deaths. Their  conduct and that of the CAB Board enabled the continuation of the specific crash-enabling conditions and the deadly culture—which continued for years, to this day. Details are in the not-for-profit book, History of Aviation Disasters: 1950 to 9/11, and within the 4000 pages at this Internet site: www.defraudingamerica.com.

At the same time that these 1965 letters were sent, FAA airline safety inspector Rodney Stich was conducting court-like administrative procedure hearings. In over 4,000 pages of hearing transcripts, there was considerable evidence of massive criminal-like misconduct throughout the management levels of the FAA, linked to a series of major aircraft disasters. 

     The cover-ups continued. Major threats to the establishment could occur if the public learned of the misconduct and the repeated heavy loss of life.

Unexplained Congressional Termination Of
CAB and Federal Aviation Agency

Congress made seemingly major changes in the departments responsible for aviation safety and investigation of aviation accidents in 1967, following the massive amount of evidence generated by FAA inspector Rodney Stich. The public was never told of the reason for the changes. 

  • The Civil Aeronautics Board Bureau of Aviation Safety was terminated, and replaced with the newly formed National Transportation Safety Board in 1967, making it part of the Department of Transportation. Another change was made in 1974, when Congress established the NTSB as a separate entity.

  •  On October 15, 1966, Congress created the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Federal Aviation Agency was renamed the Federal Aviation Administration and put under the oversight of the DOT.

The appearance of correcting the serious problems in the Civil Aeronautics Board Bureau of Aviation Safety, and the Federal Aviation Agency, was eliminated by using the same management and culture from the former organizations. The prior problems continued and increased.

Circumventing NTSB Board Cover-Up in PSA San Diego Crash,
The World's Worst Airline Disaster at That Time

The world's worst air disaster at that time was the scandal-riddled crash of a United Airlines DC-8 into the Brooklyn area of New York City, after first crashing into a TWA Constellation over Staten Island. The crash was due to the extremely poor piloting by the DC-8 captain, entering a low-altitude holding pattern at high altitude cruising  speed. That world record was superseded by the crash of a PSA airliner into San Diego, associated with another scandal that NTSB Board members sought to cover up.

In response to that cover-up, former FAA inspector, who had observed years of prior CAB/NTSB cover-ups by the political Board members, filed a petition with the NTSB Board to receive critical information that enabled the direct causes of that great air disaster to occur, and correct the official accident report that omitted the critical evidence.

The political NTSB Board members refused to admit the evidence. To have received it, it would have exposed not only their cover-up in that disaster, but the evidence of prior conduct. That discovery would also expose the crashes and deaths resulting from the prior NTSB cover-ups. The refusal of the NTSB to grant a hearing caused Stich  to filed federal actions seeking an order to receive that evidence.

Initial Support for Stich's Legal filing By
Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Francisco Office

After Stich filed the lawsuit in San Francisco, Assistant U.S. Attorney George Stoll in the San Francisco office, contacted him by phone. Stoll agreed with Stich that the NTSB should be required to reopen the investigation. During this conversation, Stoll stated:

It’s ridiculous that the NTSB did not investigate further into the reported partying. ... The investigation should be reopened. ... I am going to bring pressure on them [NTSB] through the Department of Justice to see if they won’t reopen the investigation. ... The government has responsibility to see to it that its agencies do their jobs. ...

I can go ahead and file a motion to dismiss in the next few days, but I’m not satisfied with that because I don’t think in this case the government’s skirts are totally clean, and I don’t think it’s my job to cover up. ... I agree with you that what she said, passenger Helen Rhea, was far more than an investigator in many cases is reasonably likely to hear. It certainly is pregnant with some very serious implications. ... It is ridiculous.

Stoll stated that he was recommending to his superiors in Washington that the government supports Stich's action, and that the NTSB be ordered to reopen the investigation and admit evidence of the crew partying. He also stated that he was recommending that the NTSB be investigated, as was obviously necessary.

The Assistant U.S. Attorney was unaware of the long history of cover-up by his Washington bosses in the U.S. Department of Justice that Stich had previously experienced and documented. Stich knew that Stoll’s recommendations would be denied. If Stoll was not blocked, the series of scandals involving earlier aviation disasters would receive worldwide publicity.

A week later, totally contradicting what he had previously stated to Stich, the Assistant U.S. Attorney filed a motion to dismiss the request for an order, stating in the motion to dismiss:

“There is no question in this case that the Board has performed its duty and conducted a substantial investigation.” That Department of Justice tactic would be repeated numerous times thereafter, as the system protected itself.

The complaint against the NTSB had been assigned to U.S. District Judge Stanley Weigel  in the Northern District of California at San Francisco. During the various motions by the U.S. Attorney to dismiss the lawsuit, Weigel admitted the gravity and probable conse­quences of the allegations in Stich's complaint. Under federal case law, the allegations in the complaint must be accepted as true in opposing motions to dismiss. Also, he had a responsibility under Title 18 U.S.C. § 4 to receive Stich's testimony and evidence when Stich reported the federal crimes to a federal court as required by that statute.

The lawsuit could be dismissed only if the allegations did not state facts constituting a federal cause of action. Judge Weigel dismissed the action, falsely stating that Stich was appealing an order of the NTSB, and that it came under federal statute, Title 49 U.S.C. § 1903(d). Stich did not file his cause of action under that statute. He did not appeal an order. He filed it under Title 28 United States Code Section 1361, giving federal courts the authority to force an administrative agency to comply with the law, and receive Stich's evidence. Judge Weigel stated in part:

“This is a matter that is properly before the Court of Appeals, and in a way I am sorry, because it is a fascinating subject and I would like very much to have it before me. But under the law, I don’t think I properly can.” 

He also stated that it should have been filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals. That was incorrect. But, if the complaint was filed in the wrong federal court, under law he was required, in the interest of justice, to transfer the case to the Court of Appeals, rather than dismiss the action.

Stich then filed an appeal, which was heard by U.S. Appeal Judges James Browning, Joseph Sneed, and Mary Schroeder. They also admitted the gravity of Stich's allegations. In their May 27, 1982, decision, the judges dismissed the appeal, stating:

Although appellant’s concern for the safety of future airline passengers is commendable, in view of the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in Valley Forge Chris­tian College v. Americans United for Separa­tion of Church and State, Inc., 102 S.Ct. 752 (1982), the judgment [of dismissal] must be affirmed.

Article III of the United States Constitution limits federal court jurisdiction to “cases or contro­versies.” Consistent with this limitation, litigants may not make claims for relief in federal court without showing an actual or threatened personal injury. “At an irreducible minimum, Art. III requires the party who invokes the court’s authority to ‘show that he personally has suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the putatively illegal conduct of the defendant ....’” Valley Forge, supra, 102 S.Ct. at 758, quoting Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 99, 99 S.Ct. 1601, 1608 (1979). Even absent an article III bar, this court should refrain from adjudicating disputes based on generalized grievances shared by all citizens. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 499-500, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2205-06 (1975).

Stich’s concern, the risk of future airline crashes, is real enough. That concern does not, however, rise to the level of an actual or threatened injury. The risk is shared by Ameri­cans generally. Absent an injury which threatens Stich in a way which distinguishes him from the populace as a whole, federal court action is barred.

[Dismissal is] Affirmed.

 The judges knew Stich was the only person with the hard evidence and willingness to fight the powerful forces in government already criminally implicated in the scandal. If the action was dismissed, the corrupt acts that were so deeply imbedded in the FAA, the NTSB, and elsewhere, would continue. Stich then filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, seeking to vacate the dismissal by the district court. The Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court covered up, and denied hearing Stich's petition. In this manner the deaths of many people whose lives could have been saved by exposing the politics of aviation safety, continued for many years thereafter.

Another federal statute that requires federal courts to exercise jurisdiction when the Federal Aviation Act is violated is Title 49 United States Code Section 1487. That statute states:

Any party in interest may apply to the district court of the United States ... for the enforcement of ... this Act, or such rule, regulation, requirement, ... such court shall have jurisdiction to enforce obedience thereto by a writ of injunction or other process, mandatory or otherwise, re­straining such person, his officers, ... from further violations of such provision of this Act or of such rule, regulation, requirement ... and requiring their obedience thereto.

Details of the Legal Filings

Federal lawsuit against the NTSB, seeking a court order requiring the NTSB to receive evidence that explained the primary cause of the great PSA crash. December 17, 1980. (Adobe PDF)

Corruption in Political NTSB Board:
Precursor to Numerous Airline Disasters

The corruption in certain segments of the FAA that was clearly enabling a series of horrific aviation disasters, also existed among the National Transportation Safety Board's politically appointed Board members, and made possible a series of fatal airline disasters. Their misconduct appeared to be for the purpose of protecting high-level FAA personnel.

NTSB corruption arose from the fact that Board members knew of the corruption in the Federal Aviation Administration, as one of them, Donald Madole, verbally admitted to Stich. They knew of the related fatal airline disasters, and they still refused to act, as required by law.

Even after Stich presented evidence of criminal cover-up during a four month administrative trial proceedings, during which Stich acted similar to an independent prosecutor, the NTSB continued to cover up. Stich filed the several hundred page closing brief at the end of that hearing containing documents and testimony showing a culture of corruption and a long list of deadly aviation disasters enabled by the corruption, some of it criminal in nature.

This cover up was made worse by the fact that three additional airline disasters occurred during the hearings.  The cover-ups by the NTSB Board members made possible the continuation of the culture of corruption and the crashes, which the NTSB addressed by falsifying their official accident reports on those airline crashes arising from the misconduct. This especially occurred in such crashes as (a) UAL crash at Salt Lake City; (b) UAL crash into Lake Michigan; (c) UAL crash during takeoff from Los Angeles; (d) UAL crash at Portland, Oregon; and others.

When this culture within the NTSB is recognized, it becomes easier to understand the NTSB cover-ups in such disasters as the downing of TWA Flight 800 and American Airlines Flight 587 that occurred shortly after 9/11. It is also easy to understand why the NTSB remained silent about why known safety procedures that would have prevented the hijackings of four airliners on 9/11 remained quiet.

Considerable information supported Stich's credibility and support for the charges.

Complicity of NTSB Board Members in Deception

When a U.S. airliner crashes in another nation, the investigation is led by the nation in which the crash occurred. The NTSB assists, and sometimes is in control due to their greater expertise) as a representative of the U.S., the nation of manufacturer of the aircraft, and the nation of the aircraft operator. The nation in which the crash occurred may  also delegate the remaining investigation and preparation of the final report to the NTSB. This is in accordance with ICAO Annex 13. This would have been the normal procedure with the downing of Pan Am Flight 103—making the NTSB fully aware of the corrupt actions taken by personnel of the U.S.  Department of Justice, covering up for the actual perpetrators and shifting blame to innocent parties.

The politics of the political board members of the NTSB was repeatedly seen by FAA airline safety inspector during his time with the FAA. Among the airline disasters in which they covered up was the United Airlines fraud-related crash at Salt Lake City,  and one at Portland, Oregon in the 1960s, among others; the 1978 crash of a PSA airliner into San Diego, which was the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by Captain Rodney Stich; the American Airlines Flight 587 that was downed during initial departure from New York City on November 12, 2001, among others. Details in the book, History of Aviation Disasters: 1959 to 9/11s, by Stich.

Credibility of Granddaddy of Corruption Exposing Whistleblower

50 Years of Aviation Disasters Made Possible By
 Pockets of Corruption and Total Cover-Ups

Over a period of 50 years, many aviation disasters from a multitude of causes have occurred that were enabled by incompetence, corruption, and cover-ups in the early Civil Aeronautics Board Bureau of Aviation Safety and the Federal Aviation Administration. Upon their replacement with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration, using the same personnel and same culture, the preventable aviation disasters continued.

In later years, as aircraft changed to the less-challenging jets, as the systems and engines rarely failed, on-board warning systems warned of dangers, and ground-based radar and continuous oversight corrected pilot navigational errors, crashes became far fewer. But preventable crashes did occur—with far worse consequences.

Throughout this 50-year period, and longer, activist Rodney Stich was there—starting as a Naval Aviator and Patrol Plane Commander in World War II.

Check also:



Pictorial Sampling of Consequences of FAA
Corruption and CAB/NTSB Board Cover-Ups





U.S. Embassy Bombings

9/11 Easily-Preventable Multiple Hijackings


One of Over 200 Victims Choosing This Way to Die—
Made Possible by Many Enablers in United States

These few examples of the horrors associated with airline disasters enabled to occur by documented corruption withheld from the American people. The standard culture of cover-ups in the United States enabled the corruption, cover-ups, to mutate into different areas. The inbred culture created the conditions that enabled four groups of terrorists to simultaneously, and easily, hijack four airliners within a few hours of each other.

Even worse, adding to the problems, a mole in the al Qaeda cell provided advance information of several of the initial catastrophic terrorist attacks on major U.S. targets—including the planned hijackings. Details in the not-for-profit books written by corruption-exposing whistleblower, Rodney Stich: History of Aviation Disasters: 1950 to 9/11; and Terrorism and Deadliest  Enabling Scandals of 21st Century. (Available at amazon.com in print and digital formats.)

Books by Inside Professional Revealing the
Intrigue Affecting the American People







All of the books are available at amazon.com, in print and on digital formats, and at many other Internet sites. They bring together the various pieces of the puzzle to better understand the overall picture, and why the same conditions continue year after year. Information on the books by former government agent Rodney Stich.

Sampling of early book reviews.

Sampling of complimentary letters/faxes to author/activist Rodney Stich.

Stich paid a heavy price for his efforts, hardly a proud indication of life in the United States.

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