David Schaper | KGOU
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David Schaper

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.

In this role, Schaper covers aviation and airlines, railroads, the trucking and freight industries, highways, transit, and new means of mobility such as ride hailing apps, car sharing, and shared bikes and scooters. In addition, he reports on important transportation safety issues, as well as the politics behind transportation and infrastructure policy and funding.

Since joining NPR in 2002, Schaper has covered some of the nation's most important news stories, including the Sandy Hook school shooting and other mass shootings, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, California wildfires, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and numerous other disasters. David has also reported on presidential campaigns in Iowa and elsewhere, on key races for U.S. Senate and House, governorships, and other offices in the Midwest, and he reported on the rise of Barack Obama from relative political obscurity in Chicago to the White House. Along the way, he's brought listeners and online readers many colorful stories about Chicago politics, including the corruption trials and convictions of two former Illinois governors.

But none of that compares to the joy of covering his beloved Chicago Cubs winning the World Series in 2016, and three Stanley Cup Championships for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, 2013, and 2015.

Prior to joining NPR, Schaper spent almost a decade working as an award-winning reporter and editor for WBEZ/Chicago Public Media, NPR's Member station in Chicago. For three years he covered education issues, reporting in-depth on the problems and progress — financial, educational and otherwise — in Chicago's public schools.

Schaper also served as WBEZ's Assistant Managing Editor of News, managing the station's daily news coverage and editing the reporting staff while often still reporting himself. He later served as WBEZ's political editor and reporter; he was a frequent fill-in news anchor and talk show host. Additionally, he has been an occasional contributor guest panelist on Chicago public television station WTTW's news program, Chicago Tonight.

Schaper began his journalism career in La Crosse, Wisconsin, as a reporter and anchor at Wisconsin Public Radio's WLSU-FM. He has since worked in both public and commercial radio news, including stints at WBBM NewsRadio in Chicago, WXRT-FM in Chicago, WDCB-FM in suburban Chicago, WUIS-FM in Springfield, Illinois, WMAY-AM in Springfield, Illinois, and WIZM-AM and FM in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Schaper earned a bachelor's degree in mass communications and history at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master's degree in public affairs reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield. He lives in Chicago with his wife, a Chicago Public School teacher, and they have three adult children.

How's this for an October surprise? Despite a significant rise in COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country, it appears that more people are flying on commercial jetliners than at any time over the last seven months.

More than one million people were screened by the Transportation Security Administration at airport security checkpoints Sunday. It's the first time the TSA's daily traveler count has topped the one million mark since March 16.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a huge financial toll on the travel industry, airlines are trying to shift their focus from stopping the bleeding to planning for a recovery.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby is expressing confidence, saying a recovery is "now visible on the horizon," even though that recovery still appears to be a long way off.

"The light at the end of the tunnel is a long way away, but this is the turning point," Kirby told reporters and analysts on a conference call on Thursday.

With summer vacation travel weaker than expected and business travel a fraction of what it used to be, the losses continue to mount at Delta Air Lines.

Delta, the nation's second largest airline by the number of passengers flown last year, reports losing $5.4 billion in the third quarter of this year, as the travel industry continues to suffer from low demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. Add that to the $5.7 billion loss reported in the second quarter, Delta's total losses due to the pandemic rise to more than $11 billion.

With about 40,000 workers furloughed in recent days, airlines and their employee unions are pleading with Congress and the White House to pass an extension of federal payroll support for the industry.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

Public health officials in the cities and states that President Trump visited in recent days are working to contact those who were in close proximity to him, first lady Melania Trump and others who traveled with him.

Since he has tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials worry those who attended events with the president could be at risk for the virus, too.

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The head of the Federal Aviation Administration conducted his own test flight of a Boeing 737 Max Wednesday, and he's giving it a positive review, as the regulatory agency gets closer to allowing the troubled jet to return to commercial passenger service more than 18 months after it was grounded.

(After a strange, shortened season with no fans at the ballparks, the Major League baseball playoffs are now underway. And this year, there's something else unusual: both Chicago teams are playing in the postseason. It's just the third time that the North Side Cubs and the South Side White Sox reached the playoffs in the same year.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Among the many things that have been radically changed by the coronavirus pandemic is the airline industry. Air travel demand is down a whopping 70% from last year, according to the industry group Airlines for America, and now the clock is ticking for tens of thousands of pilots, flight attendants, reservation agents and other airline employees, who will likely lose their jobs on Oct. 1, if Congress doesn't extend federal aid for the airlines.

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In another effort aimed at getting travelers back on planes, United Airlines will begin offering on-the-spot coronavirus testing to some passengers at the airport before they board their flight.

A sweeping congressional inquiry into the development and certification of Boeing's troubled 737 Max airplane finds damning evidence of failures at both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration that "played instrumental and causative roles" in two fatal crashes that killed a total of 346 people.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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The old metal gumball machine is still there - standing in a corner near the door. It's scorched and some of its plastic is melted but it's still standing there. But very little else inside what was The Good Taste Ice Cream Shoppe in Kenosha is recognizable as the blackened remains of the roof, walls, tables, chairs, and other fixtures are scattered about in heaps of charred wood and twisted and scorched metal.

Updated at 10:19 p.m. ET

The union representing police officers in Kenosha, Wis., have provided to NPR what they say is a detailed account of the moments leading up to the shooting of Jacob Blake, who was severely wounded by a police officer Sunday.

That account says Blake was armed with a knife and "forcefully fought" with the officers who tried to arrest him, putting one of them in a headlock. The statement from the Kenosha Professional Police Association also says officers twice shot Tasers at Blake but these failed to subdue him.

Protests over a police shooting of a Black father in Kenosha, Wis., continued for a fourth straight night on Wednesday. Though the gatherings again defied the county-imposed curfew, the demonstrations remained mostly peaceful.

The crowds were smaller than on previous nights, and the relative calm was a stark contrast to the scene that unfolded during the third night of protests, which turned chaotic and deadly.

The thought of packing herself onto a crowded bus or train makes Magali Olson cringe.

"I'm afraid to really take the train," Olson says. "I mean, I don't know if people are being clean or not, you know?"

She is able to work from home some days, but she's had to ride Chicago's Blue Line trains two days a week to her job at an insurance company downtown.

"Although I had Clorox wipes to clean everything, before I sat or touch anything, I was still a little scared," she says. "Some people weren't wearing masks, so it's a little scary."

The number of people flying on commercial jetliners is down 75% from last summer, but the rate of those getting caught either inadvertently or deliberately trying to bring a gun on board is soaring.

Transportation Security Administration officers are finding guns in carry on bags at security checkpoints at a rate three times higher than they did last summer. And 80% of those guns are loaded.

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