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CBS investigates Barefoot Bandit’s story

Colton Harris-Moore, the infamous 19-year-old better known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” whose international crime spree included the theft of at least five airplanes (see “ Could it happen to you?” November 2010 AOPA Pilot) is the subject of this week’s 48 Hours Mystery on CBS. 48 Hours Mystery: Chasing the Barefoot Bandit will be broadcast at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on Saturday, Nov. 13.

The show, along with private detective Paul Ciolino, tracked Harris-Moore’s escapades over a six-month period. 48 Hours Mystery and Peter Van Sant report exclusive details about Harris-Moore’s life on the run, as well as police questioning after his arrest. The show also reveals the contents of the backpack recovered after his arrest, in which authorities found sketches of airplanes, two photos from the fifth grade, and a Boy Scouts of America certificate--remnants of a more innocent time.

Harris-Moore’s longest—and perhaps most daring—flight apparently was in a Cessna Corvalis 400 stolen from John Miller of Bloomington, Ind. 48 Hours Mystery wanted to find a Cessna 400 to shoot aerial scenes that would help illustrate the story, but locating a Corvalis proved challenging.

The first step was to call Mark Smith, a cameraman who has shot for the show for more than 20 years—and an instrument-rated pilot. Working with flight instructor Liz DeStaffany, who also flies out of Santa Monica, Calif., they found a Cessna 400—owned by Dick Rutan.

Because the crew had only five hours with Rutan, they rolled multiple cameras at once, with remote cameras, the pilot’s point of view, and air to air from a Cessna 172 RG. Airport officials allowed a carefully choreographed takeoff shot at the Mojave Airport that was photographed from a car beside the Corvalis on the active runway.

“I had a great day filming with the crew,” Rutan said afterward. “Mark Smith was well organized, and his ability to coordinate all of the different agencies to make the shoot a reality was most impressive.”

Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins, AOPA technical editor and director of business development, died at age 59 on February 25, 2021. He was an integral part of the AOPA Media team for nearly 30 years, and held many key editorial roles at AOPA Pilot, Flight Training, and AOPA Online. He was a gifted writer, editor, photographer, audio storyteller, and videographer, and was an instrument-rated pilot and drone pilot.

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