Flight School Owner Tried To Block Landing Gear Testing
There are more questions than answers to this one. Officials
claim on May 6, 2006, airport activist Bancroft Shaffer, 49,
deliberately flew his Piper Seminole in the path of an Embraer
ERJ-170 at the Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport during the jet's
attempts to land... not once, not twice, but three times.
Shaffer was charged with three counts of reckless operation of
an aircraft, according to the Miami Herald.
He has been held in custody since the incident, according to
WPTV News Channel 5. Authorities say he does not have a previous
record in Miami-Dade.
Shaffer reportedly took off that night but failed to maintain
communication with the tower, according to Miami-Dade police.
Although air traffic controllers tried repeatedly to contact
the pilot, "all attempts failed," according to an arrest report by
Detective Brian Pfeiffer.
Shaffer then flew in the jet's path and forced the Embraer pilot
to take "evasive action" to avoid a collision. The pilot
"immediately requested assistance from the tower as each successive
landing attempt was thwarted," the report said.
Controllers continued to try to raise Shaffer by radio, to no
avail. All three events happened between 1,000 and 1,500 feet. The
Seminole came as close as 100 feet to the Embraer.
Then, as mysteriously as this saga began, it ended.
"OK, good. Thanks," Shaffer told the tower -- then he landed,
according to tower transcripts.
Investigators are still trying to determine what motivated
Shaffer, a 20-year veteran pilot and owner of the Silver Express
flight school and FBO, to act in a manner "deliberate in an attempt
to personally stop the ongoing test landings. In doing so, he
placed all those aboard the Embraer jet, himself, as well as
civilians on the ground, in imminent danger," according to police
The Federal Aviation Administration took more than a year to
conduct its investigation. The Herald said findings of that
investigation weren't yet available.
The county is proposing a runway expansion at TMB, and Shaffer
is said to have been quite vocal in his support.