Directed by Phil Lott and Ari Mark, HBO’s ‘The Invisible Pilot’ is a three-part documentary series that delves deep into the incredibly confounding tale of Gary Betzner, who was once literally everywhere. Whether it be a family-based stable life in a small town, an international Colombian drug smuggling ring, or a secret mission involving the CIA, he was in the midst of it all roughly four decades ago. So now, if you wish to learn more about his background, his baffling actions, his experiences, and his possible current whereabouts, we’ve got the essential details for you.
Who is Gary Betzner?
Having grown up in the South with an abusive father, as per the HBO original, Gary Betzner started showing signs of being a defiant rebel and a daredevil at quite an early age. However, years later, he chose to turn over a new leaf by putting his energy into being a Navy official, where he not only served in communications but also trained as a stealth pilot. This was, of course, before he started a family and settled down in Arkansas, just to go from being a crop duster to briefly dabbling in the Alaskan oil industry and then immersing himself into pot smuggling for some extra cash.
Gary was reportedly a hippie whose love for substances went way beyond marijuana, which first came to light when he was apprehended on narcotics charges in Miami, Florida, in 1977. Just a few months later, though, having returned to Arkansas, he was arrested for possession once again, making him realize that he could be looking at time in prison. That’s when he simply disappeared, with his second wife telling the authorities they were on a daytime drive (alongside one of his three children) when their car broke down, and he swiftly jumped off the bridge.
It was September 18 when the male who had survived 11 plane crashes supposedly willingly leaped into the water and never came out — making the entire town believe he’d died by suicide. After all, the officials found Gary’s clothes, but there were no signs of his remains, breaking his family’s heart to such an extent that his partner even had to be committed to the psych ward for weeks. Yet, the truth is that she’d helped him fake his death by staging the scene and publicly acting like a grieving widow, all the while visiting him in Hawaii with the three children.
With that said, Gary’s initial ruse didn’t last long as he soon got into legal trouble on the island state, driving him to cut off ties with everyone when going on the run again. Therefore, per the series, by the early 1980s, he’d managed to move around the nation using several aliases and work for countless cartels, eventually leading him to none other than Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The former was essentially a “shapeshifter” due to his ability to blend in with every situation, and then he used his past experiences to fly under the radar for smuggling purposes.
Where is Gary Betzner Now?
Around the time Gary Betzner was actively working for the infamous Colombian narcoterrorist, the CIA got wind of his essence and somehow roped him into leading a double life. On the one hand, he continued to smuggle cocaine for Pablo Escobar, but on the other, he was allegedly transporting weapons to the Contras as part of a black ops mission. In exchange for his work, the CIA had granted Gary complete immunity, according to his first-hand account in the documentary, yet it all came crashing down in 1984. That’s when he was caught trafficking cocaine in Florida and linked to the drug lord, leading him to receive a 27-year sentence.
Coming to Gary’s whereabouts, after he served out his complete sentence, he returned to Arkansas, where he still lives with his third wife and stays close to his children. Moreover, as per ‘The Invisible Pilot,’ even though it’s been decades and he has a lot of remorse over his actions, he still despises the CIA for purportedly going back on their word. “His family has clearly had its struggles, and I think Gary has and will continue to admit he regrets that,” co-director Ari Mark said. “He really embraces, ‘This is who he is’ and ‘This is the way it is.'”
Read More: Gary Betzner’s Net Worth