Text messages between a program specialist and an air marshal are filled with flirtatious and sometimes graphic exchanges. The messages seen here have been enhanced for better readability from copies of court documents obtained by Reveal. Credit: Julia B. Chan/Reveal

U.S. air marshals are our law enforcement in the sky – and they’re expected to protect us on high-risk flights. But as reporter Andrew Becker found out, some employees of the Federal Air Marshal Service are suspected of rearranging flights in order to meet for sexual trysts.

What began as an internal investigation into allegations of harassment and threats has expanded into a criminal inquiry, and more people are coming forward. The woman at the center of the investigation is said to have accessed sensitive government data to identify and arrange dates with air marshals who caught her eye.

DIG DEEPER

Julia B. Chan worked at The Center for Investigative Reporting until June, 2017. Julia B. Chan is a producer and the digital editor for Reveal's national public radio program. She’s the voice of Reveal online and manages the production and curation of digital story assets that are sent to more than 200 stations across the country. Previously, Chan helped The Center for Investigative Reporting launch YouTube’s first investigative news channel, The I Files, and led engagement strategies – online and off – for multimedia projects. She oversaw communications, worked to better connect CIR’s work with a bigger audience and developed creative content and collaborations to garner conversation and impact.

Before joining CIR, Chan worked as a Web editor and reporter at the San Francisco Examiner. She managed the newspaper’s digital strategy and orchestrated its first foray into social media and online engagement. A rare San Francisco native, she studied broadcasting at San Francisco State University, focusing on audio production and recording. Chan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.