A Minnetonka man who flies for Twin Cities-based Sun Country Airlines was arrested after trying to get a loaded handgun through security at a Florida airport, according to authorities.
Brian A. Machtemes, 54, was arrested Friday night at the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers and booked in jail on suspicion of having an unlicensed firearm, a felony. Machtemes posted bond, was released less than two hours later and given a Nov. 26 court date.
According to police:
The handgun was detected in a suitcase while being screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint about 6:50 p.m. Machtemes said the bag was his and that he packed it.
A TSA supervisor searched the suitcase and recovered from a zipper pouch a .380-caliber pistol that was loaded with six rounds.
TSA regulations allow for pilots under certain conditions to have a firearm in the cockpit, but it must be transported in a locked case when not on the flight deck, according to the agency.
Machtemes provided a permit to carry issued in Minnesota, but "the state of Florida does not recognize a carry permit from MN," the police report read.
Authorities read Machtemes his rights against self-incrimination, and he chose to not answer any more questions without an attorney present.
Sun Country said the pilot's arrest disrupted a flight's itinerary, and that the company provided passengers with hotels, meal vouchers and a $200 flight credit.
The airline declined to comment on the incident itself, saying that details about employee conduct and work performance are confidential.
Machtemes did not reply to a message seeking his comment.
Commercial airline pilots have since 2003 been allowed to carry firearms while on duty in case someone tries to gain control of the flight deck.
Sun Country said it has pilots who have gone through the 56 hours of training before gaining approval to possess a firearm while flying. After training is complete, the pilot is deputized as a federal law enforcement officer and issued a TSA-approved firearm and federal flight deck officer credentials. The airline would not say whether the gun Machtemes had was TSA-approved.