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Live on the air

TV correspondent puts aviation into plain English

It’s been a busy week for Pete Muntean. The NTSB has just held a summit on pilot mental health, and he’s putting together a television news package explaining who, what, where, when, and why.
Photography by Leigh Hubner.
Photography by Leigh Hubner.

He just came off reporting on Thanksgiving weekend, where you might have seen him standing in the terminal at Ronald Reagan National Airport, talking about holiday airline travel.

As CNN’s transportation correspondent, Muntean covers “pretty much everything that moves,” but most of that coverage focuses on aviation because “It touches so many people’s lives,” Muntean said.

Muntean grew up in aviation. With two pilot parents, “I knew flying from the moment I was conscious, it was always in my life.” His father, Scott Muntean, was an engineer who sold high-performance aircraft prior to his death in 2000. His mother, Nancy Lynn, flew her Extra in airshows and as an aerobatic instructor, and Muntean began announcing her airshows while he was a teenager. This gave him an affinity for the microphone, and he imagined that when he was old enough, he’d “run away and join the airshow circuit with my mom.” When she died in an airshow crash in 2006, he was temporarily groundless and unsure of what to do with his life. In college he discovered journalism and after graduation began working in local broadcast news, where he shot and reported his own stories, covering homicides and house fires, economic development stories, and local politics. As he moved up the ladder to covering the Pennsylvania state house, friends in the aviation community helped him to continue flying, and he was able to earn a private pilot certificate. “Whenever there was a transportation or journalism story, I’d get thrown into it.” When he began working at a top news station in Washington, D.C., he pitched the news director to give him the transportation beat.

Muntean counts former CNN transportation correspondent and private pilot Miles O’Brien as a friend and mentor. “I always wanted to do what Miles did,” he said. “I had been in touch with CNN….I got a call at the end of 2019 that they may be looking for somebody and then the pandemic struck.” CNN hired Muntean in April 2020. He continues to fly, practicing aerobatics in a Decathlon; he’s now a CFII and flight instructs when he can. 

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Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who is part-owner of a Cessna 182Q.

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