Capt. John Joel Pilger, USAF, Ret. age 84, a 47-year resident of Dunwoody and Naples, Fla., was reported missing and presumed dead on Jan. 20, 2019, when authorities say he commandeered a retired Boeing 767 aircraft which went missing approximately 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
Atlanta police confirm Pilger was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hospice spokeswoman Charlotte Croxton says she reached the Pilger residence late Saturday night and found the garage open with a vehicle missing. At 1:07 a.m., security footage at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport recorded Pilger presenting high level security clearance credentials then entering a facility believed to be operated by the CIA.
“The 767 disappeared from radar north of Thule Air Base in Greenland just a few hundred miles from the north pole,” said government spokesman Bill Eason in a press conference. “He was last seen flying full speed toward Russian airspace. I can neither confirm nor deny any further details.”
Pilger’s exact whereabouts are not the only mystery. Since the incident, friends and family have come forth offering conflicting explanations.
His daughter, Susan Polomsky shocked relatives with a revelation. “Everyone knew him as a mild-mannered man devoted to family and country. But from an early age, I knew dad was much more than just a Delta pilot.”
Pilger’s friends, Bill Fisher and Garry Bock of Naples responded with confusion. “We and John were all very active in the stock market. The John we knew was a high-powered Wall Street day trader, not a pilot.”
Meanwhile, Don Pilger of St. Paul, Minn., claimed his brother was a back room campaign strategist. “The Reagan 1980 landslide? Behind the scenes, that was all John.”
The explanations keep coming. Grandchildren Jonathon Eck and Julia Eck, students at Medical College of Georgia were certain Pilger was an accomplished historian writing under the nom de plume John Goldwater while granddaughter Emma Pilger claims he was moonlighting regularly as a Dick Clark stand-in for a soon to be released retrospective on Netflix.
Police say the people who knew Pilger that have come forward are providing contradictory information. “We are looking for a connection between Mr. Pilger’s background in the US Air Force, what we believed was his 32-year tenure as a pilot for Delta, his political activity, his little-known activity in the stock markets, and his propensity for global travel,” said one investigator.
Pilger’s son, Joel Pilger offered a surprising yet unsubstantiated account. “It’s now safe to let everyone know that dad never actually stopped working for Operation Blue Jay with the Air Force. The piloting for Delta, the politics, the trading, the travel, the moonlighting… it was all a sophisticated cover which enabled him to serve both his family and his country which he loved so dearly.”
The many conflicting reports may make it impossible to pinpoint Pilger’s exact location.
The only person who might be able to answer the question ‘Who is the real John Pilger?’ is his wife and constant companion of 55 years, Abigail Pilger. Detectives say they’ve been unable to interview Mrs. Pilger, however neighbors say they witnessed her leaving the couple’s home wearing dark sunglasses and a large hat.
Granddaughter Olivia Eck responded coyly, “She said something about heading to Naples,” but investigators have been unable to determine if she was referring to Florida or Italy.
All of the above is but one version attempting to explain actual events.
The other version of events is that John never left home and died peacefully surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren as they all together celebrated a life well-lived and wished him a safe flight.
Authorities request you to choose whichever version you believe or please share your own story here of the John Pilger that you knew.