The U.S. military depends on a unique aircraft. Why are so many of them crashing?

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When Evan Strickland was 13, he stood in line with his father for 30 minutes in the New Mexico summer sun for the chance to sit in the cockpit of a V-22 Osprey, a unique twin-rotor aircraft used by the U.S. military.

Looking at the photo now, Evan’s father, Wayland Strickland, choked up. “You think about it a little bit more in hindsight,” he said.

By 2022, Evan was 19 and a Marine Corps lance corporal stationed in California. He loved to play saxophone, dance for his fellow Marines to make them laugh, and had planned to elope with his girlfriend. On June 8, he headed out for his first flight as a crew chief on an Osprey.

His mother, Michelle Strickland, got a message on Facebook that day from a friend who asked, “Have you heard from Evan?”