There were more questions than answers in the immediate aftermath of a Mississippi pilot threatening to intentionally crash a plane he reportedly stole into a local Walmart, causing panic in the area and making national headlines on Saturday morning. Social media users were among the most curious with what seemed like a growing number of users wondering one thing in particular: Was the plane-jacker a Trump supporter?
Ultimately, the man identified in media reports as Cory Patterson landed the plane safely later in the morning and was taken into custody by officers with the Benton County Sheriff’s Department in an episode that ended without any lives lost or apparent harm inflicted. Patterson, who had been flying in circles above the area since about 5 a.m., is not licensed to fly, according to local news outlet the Daily Journal.
But the timing of Patterson’s flight can’t be ignored as it came days after the Biden administration has increased its rhetoric addressing threats of political violence in an effort to undermine democracy, much like the Jan. 6 insurrection carried out in hopes of overturning the 2020 election under fraudulent auspices. Biden specifically named Trump and “MAGA Republicans” as those who have incited fear and violence in hopes of disrupting the traditional democratic process of American elections.
While there’s no definitive proof Patterson supported Trump in any way, the New York Post shared a photo from his since-deleted Facebook page showing the former president arriving at an airport on Air Force One. The photo was posted in 2019 and, according to the Post, “boasted” of the moment.
The loaded language suggests Patterson was proud of capturing the moment and sharing it on Facebook. At most, it may have established the pro-Trump link critics suspected exists.
The blurry and apparently zoomed-in photo appears to have been taken from a runway-level vantage point. Patterson worked as a contract employee in a maintenance capacity at an airport in Tupelo.
The Post reported that the photo was accompanied by the following message: “Secret service told us to wait in the vehicle (they were stricter on this one than they were the last time he came). But you can tell he’s the one on the front coming down the stairs cause of the red tie, and the hair!”
It was not immediately clear if that is the same airport where the photo was taken of Air Force One in 2019.
Again, this does not suggest Patterson — who faces charges of grand larceny, making terrorist threats and possibly federal charges — is a fan or supporter of Trump by any means. However, the absence of any criticism of Trump from Patterson during such a politically polarizing time when there was no middle ground between liberals and conservatives strongly suggests he at the very least reveled in the presence of the former president, something that those who oppose Trump’s politics likely would never do.
Patterson’s stunt came one day after civil rights leaders met with Biden to address his stated concerns about the state of democracy and fears of political violence, much of which has been motivated by race.
That followed Biden using a nationally televised speech one day earlier to publicly call out “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans,” who the president said, “represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”
Saturday marked the latest unfortunate news to come out of Mississippi this week as the capital city Jackson, which has a population that is more than 82% Black, is suffering from an ongoing water crisis that is seemingly going unanswered by the state and federal government.
This is America.
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.