Miles O'Brien (journalist)
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June 9, 1959
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Miles O'Brien (born June 9, 1959) is an independent American broadcast news journalist specializing in science, technology, and aerospace. His left arm was amputated just above the elbow after an apparently minor accident on February 12, 2014, in the Philippines.
Born in Detroit and raised in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, O’Brien attended Georgetown University, majoring in history. One semester short of graduation in 1982, he was offered and accepted his first broadcasting position by WRC-TV in Washington, DC. He was later a reporter and anchor at TV stations in Boston, Massachusetts; Tampa, Florida; Albany, New York; and St. Joseph, Missouri. O’Brien joined CNN in 1992.
He is a third-generation general aviation pilot. His father, a private pilot, shared his love of flying with him at an early age. His first flights were in small Cessnas and Pipers rented by his father. O'Brien's paternal and maternal grandfathers were also both pilots.
CNN correspondent and anchor
While with CNN in Atlanta and New York, O’Brien served as CNN’s science, space, aviation technology, and environment correspondent. He anchored programs including Science and Technology Week, Headline News, Primetime, Live From…(CNN), and CNN American Morning.
O’Brien covered all aspects of the U.S. space program for CNN including reports on the Hubble Space Telescope, the shuttle dockings at Mir, the first space station launch from Kazakhstan, John Glenn’s return to space (with broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite), landings on Mars, the winning of the Ansari X-Prize, and the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia and its crew, a story he told to the world in a 16-hour marathon of live coverage. After years of negotiations, NASA had signed an agreement with CNN that, if not for the disaster, would have made O’Brien the first journalist to fly on a space shuttle. O’Brien followed the investigation and successful return to flight.
In 2000, O’Brien produced, shot and wrote a one-hour documentary on the process of readying a space shuttle for flight: "Terminal Count: What it Takes to Make the Space Shuttle Fly," which aired in May 2001.
A private pilot since 1988, O’Brien also reported extensively on civil aviation issues and crash investigations. O'Brien reported the airliner crashes of US Airways Flight 427, ValuJet 592, TWA 800, EgyptAir 990, American Airlines 587, Comair 5191, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Payne Stewart, Paul Wellstone, the C-150 incursion into the Washington DC Air Defense Identification Zone, and the Cory Lidle crash in Manhattan.
In the wake of the September 11 attacks, O'Brien provided viewers radar tracks of the hijacked flights while the twin towers were still standing. During the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, he, along with various retired generals, reported on military aviation techniques and strategy.
O’Brien left CNN in December 2008.
He was rehired by CNN on March 23, 2014, as an aviation analyst.
After leaving CNN, O’Brien formed Miles O’Brien Productions, LLC in Washington, DC. Through this independent company, O’Brien creates stories for numerous outlets including PBS, Discovery Science (TV channel), National Science Foundation, Spaceflightnow.com, and corporate clients. One of his most notable series productions for PBS was "Blueprint America" that dealt with rebuilding American mass transit infrastructure.
He worked on the Frontline documentary, "Flying Cheap" which aired on the one-year anniversary of the Colgan Air plane crash in Buffalo, NY. The highly acclaimed documentary featured former Colgan Air pilots revealing shocking details about some attempts to keep underpaid pilots flying beyond legal limits.
- 1981–82: WRC-TV assignment editor/production assistant in Washington, DC
- 1983: KQTV anchor/reporter/producer/photographer/editor in St. Joseph, MO
- 1983–84: WNYT (TV) anchor/reporter/producer in Albany, NY
- 1984–86: WTSP-TV special segment reporter/producer in Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL
- 1986–91: WHDH (TV) general assignment reporter/anchor in Boston, MA
- 1991–92: Christian Science Monitor freelance producer/reporter/anchor in Boston, MA
- 1992–2008: CNN space/aviation correspondent; “Science and Technology Week” anchor; “Science and Technology” correspondent/anchor; “CNN Live From” anchor, “CNN Saturday/Sunday Morning” anchor; “CNN Headline News Prime” anchor; “CNN American Morning” anchor in Atlanta, GA and New York, NY
- 2008–present: owner Miles O’Brien Productions, LLC in Washington, DC serving as correspondent/writer for Discovery Science “Innovation Nation” series; WNET “Blueprint America” series; and video productions/moderation of events for clients including McAfee, SAP, X-Prize Foundation, Medco, Astrogenetix, and the Rocket Racing League
- 2009–11: co-founder/host Spaceflight Now shuttle webcasts from Florida
- 2009–11: chairman Education and Public Outreach Committee of NASA Advisory Council in Washington, DC
- 2009–present: PBS Frontline writer/correspondent for “Flying Cheap,” “Flying Cheaper,” “Nuclear Aftershocks,” and “Dollars and Dentists” in Boston, MA
- 2009–present: National Science Foundation correspondent for “Science Nation” series in Washington, DC
- 2010–present: PBS NewsHour science correspondent/producer in Washington, DC
- 2013–present: PBS Nova producer/director “Mind of a Rampage Killer,” “Manhunt: Boston Bombers,” and “Megastorm Aftermath” in Boston, MA
- 2014–present: CNN aviation analyst
An instrument-rated pilot with about 2,000 hours pilot-in-command time, O'Brien owns a Cirrus SR22, which he often flies on assignments. His other interests include running, mountain and road biking, swimming, waterskiing, scuba diving, sailing, and carpentry.
O'Brien is on the boards of: the Challenger Center for Space Science Education; the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing; LessCancer.org, and the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation.
From 2009 to 2011, O'Brien served as chairman of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC)'s Education and Outreach Committee and advised the NASA Administrator on mass communication strategies.
He is a member of: the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (since 1988); the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (since 1982); the Experimental Aircraft Association (since 2007); and the Writers’ Guild (since 2011).
- 1986 – Florida Emmy Award Outstanding Coverage of a Single Breaking News Story (Reporter)- St. Petersburg Chlorine Leak
- 1989 – Boston/New England Emmy Award Outstanding News Series (Producer/Reporter)- "Boundaries of Fear"
- 1990 – CINE “Golden Eagle” (Producer/Reporter)- "Boundaries of Fear"
- 1993 – Columbus Film Festival Bronze Plaque – “Swords to Plowshares: The Price of Peace”
- 1993 – Computer Press Awards Best Television Program (Anchor/Correspondent/Writer)- "CNN Science and Technology Week"
- 1993 – National Association of Science Writers Science in Society Award (Anchor/Correspondent/Writer)- "Sweet Fruit – Bitter Harvest"
- 1993 – Overseas Press Club Award – “Swords to Plowshares: The Price of Peace”
- 1996 – National News and Documentary Emmy Award Outstanding Coverage of a Single breaking News Story (Anchor)- coverage of the Olympic Park Bombing
- 2002 – Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Space Communicator Award
- 2002 – National Headliner Award for investigative coverage – "Sept. 11 attacks"
- 2006 – Society of Environmental Journalists Award for Reporting on the Environment (Anchor/Correspondent/Writer)- "CNN Presents: Melting Point"
- 2006 – National Press Club Robert L Kozik Award for Environmental Reporting – First Place (Anchor/Correspondent/Writer)- "CNN Presents: Melting Point"
- 2006 – Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Max Karant Award for Excellence in Aviation Journalism (Correspondent)- "Small Planes"
- 2006 – George Foster Peabody Award – coverage of Hurricane Katrina
- 2006 – Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award (Anchor/Correspondent)- CNN Coverage of Hurricane Katrina
- Muntean, Pete (July–August 2010). "ON AIR An Interview With Newsman Miles O'Brien". Pilot Magazine. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- Blueprint America
- National Science Foundation Science Nation Correspondent
- Flying Cheap
- PBS NewsHour: Miles O'Brien
- Mind of a Rampage Killer
- Manhunt-Boston Bombers
- NOVA Megastorm Aftermath
- NASA Advisory Council Members
- PBS NewsHour About Us
- "For Aileen"
- “Just a Flesh Wound”
- PBS correspondent Miles O'Brien has arm amputated
- Challenger Center Board of Directors
- RNASA Board of Advisors
- RNASA Space Communicator Award Winners
- Official website
- Miles O'Brien returns to broadcast journalism Anchoring Blueprint America documentary