Among the lengthy list of villains in the disturbing saga of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, is a small cadre of women who as youngsters themselves, helped the billionaire feed his insatiable appetite for teenaged girls. Nadia Marcinko, the pilot and social media influencer known as Global Girl, was named as one of these abetters, as I reported before in Flying Lessons.
We know that victims testified Marcinko was a participant in the sex crimes Epstein plead guilty to in Palm Beach back in 2008. Forty girls said Epstein paid them to for sex sometimes with him and Marcinko, and that they were also encouraged to recruit other girls for this activity between 2002-2005. Now even though the U.S. Attorney in Florida made a non-prosecution agreement deal with Epstein which resulted in his paltry time in jail, Federal prosecutors in New York say they will put Epstein on trial again.
Marcinko stopped posting on social media in June probably around the time the Grand Jury was meeting in New York to consider the new indictment of Epstein that was released on Monday. But she might also be in legal jeopardy – though not double jeopardy because she was never indicted or prosecuted.
In a court document filed in Florida, Marcinko is repeatedly referred to as Epstein’s “sex slave” and “live in sex slave”. She would have been between 14 and 17 at the time. So there’s little question that whatever she did related to Epstein’s crimes must be seen in the light of the fact that she was a probable victim herself. There’s nothing in the public record explaining how a 14-year old Slovakian wound up residing in the home of an American businessman, but a clue would be the well-documented relationship between Epstein and a modeling agency thought to be a front for sex trafficking.
When I met Marcinko in 2013, she told me she was a sometime model so I suspect that’s how Marcinko ended up in Epstein’s orbit. By the time of our meeting, Epstein had resolved his legal troubles with that brief and cushy jail stay and Marcinko was in the process of transforming herself.
She’d learned to fly while still living in Palm Beach, started several business ventures related to flying, and used her modeling and flying skills to accrue followers to her Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. As an influencer with a growing audience, she was invited to participate in events that were marketing opportunities for various businesses. In short, Nadia Marcinko was aviation click bait.
There’s something heartening about turning a bad break into something better but something worrisome about the consistent pairing of flying and sex that encourages an audience of leers and comments – the very behavior that women have been trying to eliminate from the workplace, according to Elan Head, a commercial helicopter pilot and flight instructor and editor at MHM Publishing, who has been following Marcinko’s social channels over the years.
At first, she said, she found it “irritating to see a female pilot campaigning so aggressively on the basis of her physical appearance. But in the years since, particularly as Instagram has exploded, I’ve come to see Nadia in the context of social media dynamics that reward men for their accomplishments and women for their looks.
“Even if a female pilot doesn’t turn to social media, as Nadia did, with the cynical intention of trading on her appearance, she’ll quickly find that social media algorithms reward sexualized posts. Being a social media influencer these days comes with so many perks and earning opportunities — from free travel to Breitling sponsorships — that even accomplished professional women may be tempted to post boob shots and duck faces to boost their follower counts.”
Head worries about the message this sends to young girls. The answer seems self-evident in a YouTube video featuring Marcinko, which has already been viewed nearly two million times.
Marcinko, a woman whose adolescence was spent in the custody of and an active participant in the activities of an acknowledged pedophile is dressed as a little girl, who spoofs an older male pilot with her surprising acrobatic skills.
When they land, the pigtails are gone and the sweater is tossed revealing the little girl is a bombshell in a low-cut black dress.
Whatever Maxmantv and Marcinko hoped to achieve with the video, to my eye it is a metaphorical clip of her life. She’s ditched the little girl identity to emerge a woman of accomplishment still tying her value to her identity as a sexpot.
“What kind of message is this sending to young girls?” Head wonders, “that they can succeed as a pilot only by being hot and fun and sexy? Just as importantly, what kind of message is it sending to boys? That it’s OK to make remarks like, ‘Somebody drop the oxygen mask, this pilot took my breath away yo’?”
The sordid Epstein mess raises a multitude of questions about power, sex, money and justice. In our smaller, more narrowly focused world of aviation we too have questions to ask about the role of sex in promoting flying. Perhaps this sad and complicated story can show us how to make things better for men and women in our field. As always I welcome your thoughts.
Author of The New York Times bestseller, The Crash Detectives, I am also a journalist, public speaker and broadcaster specializing in aviation and travel.