Miami-Dade County

‘You have killed too many students’: Hackers hijack flight school website after crash

Hackers take over website of flight school where four died in Miami plane crash

Dean International Flight School’s website was hacked Thursday. Shortly afterward the website was shut down. The hacking came after four people died when two planes collided in midair over the Everglades Tuesday.
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Dean International Flight School’s website was hacked Thursday. Shortly afterward the website was shut down. The hacking came after four people died when two planes collided in midair over the Everglades Tuesday.

Hackers hijacked the website belonging to Dean International, the flight school that owns the planes in Tuesday’s midair crash over the Everglades that killed four people.

On Thursday afternoon, the school’s web page, flymiami.com, went dark. Across the top of the page in a glowing capital font read, “RIP to all students that have been victims of Robert Dean,” referring to the school’s owner. The message sat beneath a photo of a Pakistani flag.

Below the flag flashed various phrases that include: “The only thing worse than the safety of your planes is your website,” and “You have killed too many students.” At the corner of the page was a hashtag that read #FreePalestine.

On Tuesday afternoon, a Piper PA-34 and a Cessna 172 — which had both departed from West Kendall’s Miami Executive Airport —somehow crashed in the sky and plummeted to the ground, nine miles west of where they took off. After a frantic search, Miami-Dade police and fire rescue recovered the bodies of Jorge Sanchez, 22, Ralph Knight, 72 and Nisha Sejwal, 19, on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday morning, rescue crews pulled the body of 22-year-old Carlos Alfredo Zanetti Scarpati from the river of grass.

Police said Knight was a subcontracted inspector who worked for the FAA and that Sejwal was on a routine flight check to maintain her certification. Sanchez was a certified flight instructor at Dean. Information on Scarpati was not immediately available. Police believe Scarpati was flying with Sanchez and that Knight and Sejwal were in the other plane.

Dean International did not respond for a request to comment Thursday. Officials shut down their website shortly after hackers took reins.

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Hackers hijacked the website belonging to Dean International, the flight school that owns the planes in Tuesday’s midair crash that killed four people. Wayback Machine

According to Miami-Dade police, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will take over the investigation about the causes of the crash and how it happened.

Records show the school’s planes were involved in five accidents from 2007-2017, resulting in two fatalities.

FAA records reveal that the flight school had 26 FAA accident/incident reports — more than two per year — since 2007.

But this resulted in only eight FAA enforcement actions for Dean International since 2004 — three of which resulted in administrative actions and two of which cost Dean a $15,000 fine. Three of those disciplinary actions were for using planes that hadn’t received proper inspection.

The FAA found no violation after investigation in three of the eight enforcement actions.

“People trust you to keep them safe and time and time again you fail,” the hackers wrote. “Student deaths. Poor maintenance. Poor training.”

Miami Herald Staff Writers David J. Neal, Charles Rabin and David Goodhue contributed to this story.
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