All About Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's 2016 Plane Ride That Led to Divorce — and Years of Tension

·8 min read

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's disastrous 2016 private plane ride is making headlines again, six years later.

Earlier this week, PEOPLE obtained a copy of the heavily redacted FBI report from the closed investigation of an altercation on the plane. Jolie, 47, anonymously requested the documents be released to her under the Freedom of Information Act. She and Pitt, 58, who share six kids, have long been locked in a custody battle.

The documents revealed new insight into what allegedly happened on the Sept. 14, 2016, flight — which came days before Jolie filed for divorce.

Jolie hasn't commented about the sealed FBI records coming to light this week.

A source close to Pitt claimed to PEOPLE Wednesday that Jolie intended to "revive an issue that was painful for everybody and was resolved six years ago" in order to "inflict the most amount of pain on her ex."

The exes, who were declared legally single by a judge back in 2019, are parents to Maddox, 21, Pax, 18, Zahara, 17, Shiloh, 16, and 14-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox.

For more on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

Read on for a timeline of the shocking incident and the legal battles that followed.

RELATED: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's Relationship — A Look Back

Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt
Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt

Samir Hussein/WireImage; Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

Jolie files for divorce from Pitt

Listing their date of separation as Sept. 15 — one day after the plane ride — Jolie filed for divorce on Sept. 19, 2016, citing irreconcilable differences for their breakup. She also filed for sole physical custody, though a Pitt source said he'd fight for joint custody.

Her lawyer said at the time, "This decision was made for the health of the family. She will not be commenting at this time, and asks that the family be given their privacy during this difficult time." Pitt added in a statement of his own, "I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids. I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time."

Pitt and Jolie met in 2003 while making their 2005 action movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith and began publicly dating a few years later. They got engaged in 2012 and married on Aug. 23, 2014.

Authorities investigate Pitt for alleged child abuse

Days after the divorce news, sources confirmed that Pitt was under investigation for child abuse after he allegedly got "verbally abusive" and "physical" with one of his kids on the couple's private plane while their other kids were present. The L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services got involved after someone anonymously reported the incident.

A Pitt source said at the time he was taking the matter "very seriously and says he did not commit any abuse of his children," adding: "It's unfortunate that people involved are continuing to present him in the worst possible light."

The case was also referred to the FBI under special aircraft jurisdiction due to the incident taking place mid-flight.

Sources share Pitt's side of story

An insider with knowledge of the incident spoke to PEOPLE about Pitt's version of events, admitting the actor was "drunk" and "there was an argument between him and Angelina" — as well as a "parent-child argument, which was not handled in the right way and escalated more than it should have."

The source explained that "no one was physically harmed" and denied that Pitt had "hit his child in the face in any way."

Rather, the source claimed, as a "confrontation was spiraling out of control," Pitt "made contact with Maddox in the shoulder area, and there was absolutely no physical injury to him." Maddox was 15 at the time.

Accusations beyond that, the source claimed at the time, are "a combination of exaggerations and lies. They have taken the overall smallest kernel of truth — that a fight got out of hand and reached a regrettable peak, and that as a result DCFS is looking into it — and they are manipulating it to best suit their attempts to gain custody."

RELATED: Angelina Jolie Says Bringing Awareness to the Violence Against Women Act Is 'Personal to Everyone'

Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, Zahara Jolie-Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, Maddox Jolie-Pitt and Knox Jolie-Pitt attend the "Eternals" UK Premiere at BFI IMAX Waterloo on October 27, 2021 in London, England
Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, Zahara Jolie-Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, Maddox Jolie-Pitt and Knox Jolie-Pitt attend the "Eternals" UK Premiere at BFI IMAX Waterloo on October 27, 2021 in London, England

Mike Marsland/WireImage

FBI closes investigation with no charges

Two months later, the FBI ended its investigation and cleared Pitt on Nov. 22, 2016: "In response to allegations made following a flight within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States which landed in Los Angeles carrying Mr. Brad Pitt and his children, the FBI has conducted a review of the circumstances and will not pursue further investigation. No charges have been filed in this matter," the FBI said in a statement at the time.

Earlier that month, the DCFS also concluded its investigation with no findings of abuse.

Pitt opens up about regrets and getting sober

In his first interview since the high-profile breakup, Pitt told GQ Style in May 2017 that he quit drinking because he doesn't "want to live that way anymore." He added, "I just ran it to the ground. I had to step away for a minute. And truthfully I could drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good."

He also spoke about putting "family first" and being concerned with how his personal life being made public could potentially affect the kids as they grew up in the spotlight.

"It is a drag to have certain things drug out in public and misconstrued. I worry about it more for my kids, being subjected to it, and their friends getting ideas from it. And of course it's not done with any kind of delicacy or insight — it's done to sell," said Pitt. "And so you know the most sensational sells, and that's what they'll be subjected to, and that pains me. I worry more in my current situation about the slideshow my kids have. I want to make sure it's well-balanced."

RELATED: Angelina Jolie Believes Brad Pitt's Claims About Their Winery Are 'False,' the 'Truth' Will Come: Source

Brad Pitt (L) and actress Angelina Jolie attend the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California
Brad Pitt (L) and actress Angelina Jolie attend the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California

Ethan Miller/WireImage Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in March 2014

Jolie says divorce filing was not easy decision

In September 2021, Jolie reflected on her divorce while speaking with The Guardian, saying, "I'm not the kind of person who makes decisions like the decisions I had to make lightly. It took a lot for me to be in a position where I felt I had to separate from the father of my children."

Jolie — who mentioned "there's a lot I can't say" — said she felt "broken" by her experiences, and that she wanted her family to find a way to move forward, "including their dad."

At the time, a source close to Pitt said in response to Jolie's comments, "It's hard to see how continuing down this path benefits anybody."

Jolie's 2016 abuse allegations revealed in FBI records

This week, the years-old FBI documents about the closed investigation into the plane incident were obtained and reported on by multiple outlets, including PEOPLE. The redacted records unveiled further shocking details about what Jolie alleged happened than were previously reported.

Jolie told investigators there was "tension" between her and Pitt going into the trip from France back to their Los Angeles home. She claimed that Pitt's actions that day made her feel "like a hostage" on the plane. He allegedly grabbed and shook her, pushed her into a wall and punched the plane's ceiling. And when she said it appeared "like he was going to attack" one of their kids for calling him a "prick" during a dispute, Jolie admitted to wrapping her arms around Pitt's neck in a chokehold-style.

Jolie said Pitt behaved like a "monster" as he "ranted" on the plane, frightening her and their six children, who were "shell-shocked."

Additionally, Jolie alleged there was approximately $25,000 in damage to the plane and claimed Pitt "poured beer on" her at one point. The report said Jolie had injuries to her back and elbow plus a "rug-burn type wound" on her hand, while Pitt sustained a "scratch," which she noted "could have been from her."

RELATED VIDEO: Brad Pitt Accuses Angelina Jolie of Purposely Harming Reputation of Wine Company He 'Carefully Built'

Pitt source questions why incident is being reopened six years later

source close to Pitt then told PEOPLE there is "nothing new" with the documents coming to light, and both he and Jolie have had the documents for years.

"It was investigated and there were no charges brought. It's standard for these type of things to not be released. Both parties had it," said the source. "There is no benefit to this. It is harmful to the children and the entire family for this to be made public."

The source added that Pitt "has remained silent on this issue because he knows that is the best thing for his kids, what's best for everybody. He has maintained that stance despite a never-ending barrage of attacks and attempts to use the courts against him."