Tom Huey, 51, of Concord, was taken into custody at about 6:40 p.m. Wednesday at Buchanan Field Airport, Lt. Jim Lardieri said.
Police had been investigating the case since about a year ago, when residents reported a low-flying plane on several occasions, Lardieri said.
The activity stopped but resumed earlier this month, and police received word around the same time that several flyers had been found on lawns in the area of Lincoln Drive, prompting speculation that the flyers had been dropped from the plane.
The flyers named a Concord resident and contained derogatory statements about her.
Investigators from the Police Department and the Federal Aviation Administration had been keeping an eye on Huey, the ex-boyfriend of the woman named in the flyers. His plane was in the air around the time of the flyover reports, but until Wednesday there had been no cause to arrest him, authorities said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Concord police met Huey at the Buchanan airport to serve him with a restraining order filed by his ex-girlfriend, Lardieri said.
That evening, police dispatchers received about 12 complaints from Canterbury Village residents about a low-flying plane, he said.
Officers headed to the airport again and arrested Huey.
"We were waiting for him," he said. "We contacted him shortly after he landed his plane."
Lardieri said there is no hard evidence yet that Huey dropped the flyers, which contained a racial aspect.
"It references a subject by name; it also makes a racial slur directed at African Americans," he said.
However, Lardieri said, the case is not considered a hate crime.
"We're looking more at the theory that this is a domestic situation, an ex-boyfriend allegedly making these statements," he said.
Keith Freitas, director of airports for Contra Costa County, said last week that the airport has been monitoring the situation since the flyover activity began about 13 months ago. All information is being passed to FAA investigators, he said.
He said residents have begun to blame the flyovers for other occurrences in Concord, including a rock that went through a windshield last year.
There is no indication the rock was dropped from a plane, he said.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said Huey's pilot license was suspended for 50 days in 2007 because he violated flight restrictions set up for a local visit by President George W. Bush the previous year.
Huey is being held in Contra Costa County jail in lieu of $155,000 bail.