The FAA accidentally disclosed more than 2,000 flight records associated with Jeffrey Epstein's private jets

Jeffrey Epstein repeated three times in front of an airplane on a red background.
Rick Friedman/Getty; iStock; Skye Gould/Insider
  • Insider requested all flight-history data associated with four planes owned by Jeffrey Epstein.

  • The FAA rejected the request but later provided the records in response to an unrelated request.

  • The new FAA records include hundreds of previously unknown flights made by Epstein's jets.

  • They corroborate Insider's reporting on Epstein's travel patterns as documented in court records and flight-signal data.

  • A searchable database now contains 2,618 flights made by Epstein's private jets from 1995 to July 6, 2019.

In January 2020, Insider asked the Federal Aviation Administration for all the agency's flight records, including departure and arrival data, associated with a fleet of private jets owned by Jeffrey Epstein. Filed under the Freedom of Information Act, our request seemed to have a decent chance of success: The agency in 2011 released its entire database of US-based flights to The Wall Street Journal.

In March 2020, however, the FAA denied our request, saying that "the responsive records originate from an investigative file" and were therefore exempt from disclosure. The agency cited Exemption 7(A), which Congress designed to shield records that were "compiled for law enforcement" and "could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceeding." The FAA did not specify which enforcement proceeding the records might interfere with; Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's ex-girlfriend and confidante, faces a trial over sex-trafficking charges this month.

But despite its original denial, the FAA inadvertently mailed Insider a portion of Epstein's flight records alongside correspondence for an unrelated FOIA request earlier this year. The records contained data on 2,300 flights among four private jets registered to Epstein between 1998 and 2020. Most of them had appeared in Insider's searchable database of all known flights connected to Epstein.

The new FAA records also reveal 704 previously unknown flights taken by Epstein's planes. These include hundreds of trips from a three-year gap in the public record, from 2013 to 2016, when the jets' movements were unaccounted for.

The new flight records do not include the names of passengers, but they may offer clues about the whereabouts of Epstein's close associates. Maxwell was a frequent passenger aboard the disgraced financier's jets.

Epstein owned a Gulfstream II (sold in November 2013), a Gulfstream IV (sold before his arrest), a Gulfstream GV-SP, and a Boeing 727 (nicknamed the "Lolita Express") that notoriously ferried notable passengers and girls around the globe. According to flight manifests unsealed in a defamation case against Maxwell, travelers on Epstein's planes included public figures from Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton to the supermodel Naomi Campbell and the astronaut John Glenn.

Insider has reported extensively on Epstein's air travel, covering his jets' flight patterns before his arrest and publishing a searchable database of every known flight made by his jets. The database, which has been updated, now includes flights compiled from court records; public flight-signal data from the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, system; and FAA records.

In addition to filling in the three-year gap in the mid-2010s, the FAA flight records corroborate the flight records compiled by Epstein's pilots and found through Insider's analysis of ADS-B data. They clarify start and end points that were ambiguous because of incomplete ADS-B data, which relies on the availability of land-based receivers that pick up signals from aircraft overhead; often, signals drop off in remote areas and over bodies of water. The data confirms that Epstein traveled to areas such as Cabo and Marrakech and frequented the US Virgin Islands, where his private island was.

Two of Epstein's planes continued to travel after his arrest and subsequent death. His Gulfstream GV-SP — the plane he flew on right before his arrest — was moved in early 2020 to Palm Beach, Florida, where it was later put on the market. His Gulfstream IV, bearing the tail number N120JE, is still registered to Epstein's former company, JEGE LLC, an enterprise that a Georgia pilot quietly acquired in the weeks before Epstein's arrest in July 2019. The pilot sued Epstein's estate in federal court on October 20, alleging that he hadn't been aware the jet was used in a "criminal enterprise" and that the company had been "damaged by the stigma" connected to the sex offender.

The newly obtained FAA records follow the travel patterns established by Insider's larger trove of Epstein flight data. Epstein's jets flew most often between New York and Palm Beach, where his primary residences were, as well as to his estates in Paris, New Mexico, and the Virgin Islands.

While Epstein's jets flew extravagantly over the last 24 years of his life, they traveled most prolifically in the early aughts, making 906 flights — more than a third of the flights compiled by Insider — between 2001 and 2006.

"Flight data is typically considered to be releasable information," an FAA spokesperson told Insider. The agency declined to comment on its disclosure of Epstein's flight records or any matter related to law-enforcement investigations.

Access our full searchable database here: We compiled every known flight made by Jeffrey Epstein's fleet of private planes. Search them all for the first time.

Read the original article on Business Insider