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Within an hour, the lights of Martha's Vineyard were only 15 minutes away, but invisible. Then Kennedy's mind started playing tricks; the instrument panel and his head were telling him different things.

Why John Kennedy crashed

It was like one of Barlow's better psychedelic efforts for the Grateful Dead, only this nightmare was for real. Kennedy lost his bearings, then lost control of the plane. In the dry parlance of the investigation, this is being called a 'disorientation accident'. Kennedy seems to have had a sudden attack of what pilots call 'black hole vertigo': In the night haze, Kennedy's instincts began to lie to him; his mind's eye was blind.

Only with experience, which Kennedy lacked, can a pilot trust the needles on the dials more than what his brain is telling him. Black hole vertigo causes a pilot to think he is flying where he is not, and to overcompensate. The plane might feel as if it's veering to the right, said Byron Byrnes, an official of the Air Traffic Controllers' Association, but the double-pointed needle on the artificial-horizon dial tells you different. The pilot, in error, eases the 'yoke' control to the right. To save yourself, you have to ignore the voices inside your head.

Otherwise, you pass the point of no return, at which your brain and the dials really are in harmony - only the needles on the altimeter are now spinning towards zero, and you are heading for the point at which black night meets black sea. There was no emergency call from the plane.

Byrnes thinks Kennedy may have turned the aircraft upside down and tried to pull back, thereby accelerating its plunge.

By now, the plane was nosediving at 4,ft per minute, heading into the 'graveyard spiral' and the endless deep. The 'graveyard spiral' spins in a tighter and tighter circle. The last thing Kennedy would have seen, if he saw anything, would have been the ocean's surface spinning as it came crashing towards him at 79ft a second. John-John, his wife and sister-in-law died the moment the plane ripped into the surface of the Atlantic.

John F. Kennedy Jr. plane crash

They suffered 'multiple traumatic injuries'. All three were strapped into their seats - a precaution they had taken in case of a bumpy ride. The plane began its submarine plunge with between 10 and 12 feet of its fuselage more or less intact. But the impact on the water had been a mighty one - the wings were torn off, the engine gorged with seaweed. The Coast Guard pulled in its helicopters at nightfall, but officials said a search-and-rescue effort was continuing.

Gary Jones said yesterday. He took off without incident just after 8: Kennedy, 38, an international sex symbol and marquee magazine editor who is the late president's only surviving son, was planning to drop off his sister-in-law on the Vineyard, then fly his wife to the family compound in Hyannis Port. There they planned to attend the wedding of his cousin Rory, the youngest of the late Sen. But the wedding has been postponed, now that tragedy has apparently struck the Kennedy family once again.

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Oddly enough, it was 30 years ago today that Sen. Kennedy drove off a bridge at Chappaquiddick, an island adjacent to the Vineyard, killing one of his campaign aides.

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Yesterday, there was live coverage of the massive search-and-rescue operation on every television network, as Americans came together around the electronic hearth for another Kennedy-related national experience. At Hyannis Port, the Kennedy clan's historic gathering point in good times and bad, a friend said the family spent much of the day watching the same depressing footage, after a morning Mass that had been scheduled in honor of Rory's wedding was converted into a prayer vigil for the safety of the missing. The friend said several of the Kennedys also found time to swim later in the day and to play with the children.

I haven't seen a tear yet, and that's beautiful. He also called Sen. Cuomo, who is married to John's cousin Kerry. The Federal Aviation Administration cleared Kennedy for takeoff at 8: Friday, and his plane encountered no problems in northern New Jersey airspace. But official sources said it disappeared from radar at about 9: Kennedy did not file a flight plan, but he was not required to do so. Kyle Bailey, a pilot who flies a Cessna , may have been the last person to see Kennedy and his wife alive.

His instructors said Kennedy required help working the rudder pedals to taxi and land the plane because of his ankle injury. During a training flight at night under instrument conditions , his instructor stated that Kennedy had the ability to fly the airplane without a visible horizon but may have had difficulty performing additional tasks under such conditions.

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He also stated that the pilot was not ready for an instrument evaluation, and needed additional training. The instructor at the time of the crash was not aware that Kennedy would be flying in those conditions without an instructor on board. The CFI further stated that he had talked to Kennedy on the night of the accident and offered to fly with him that night.

He stated that Kennedy had the capability to conduct a night flight to Martha's Vineyard as long as a visible horizon existed. The NTSB suggested that Kennedy's marriage may have contributed to a source of stress by the time of the crash. Distractions can so interfere with judgment that unwarranted risks are taken, such as flying into deteriorating weather conditions to keep on schedule. The flight was originally scheduled for daylight hours, but had to be postponed after Kennedy's sister-in-law was delayed at work. Heavy traffic further delayed Kennedy's flight and pushed it back until after dark.

Originally planned to depart at 6: At the time of the takeoff, the moon was just above the horizon and provided very little illumination. Kennedy never received a weather briefing or filed a flight plan with any Flight Service Station.


Except for the take-off portion of his flight, Kennedy did not contact any air traffic controllers; during the flight, he never requested help or declared an emergency. According to the Weather Service International, as reported in the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, Kennedy made two weather requests before taking off.

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The information he was provided indicated that visibility ranged from 10 miles along his route to four miles at Martha's Vineyard. Six weeks before the crash, Kennedy had fractured his left ankle in a paragliding accident over the Memorial Day weekend. He had surgery and wore a cast which was removed just the day before the fatal flight.

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He still walked with a limp on the day of the accident. While the NTSB examined the wreckage, they soon discovered that both of Kennedy's radios had incorrect frequencies selected. Kennedy had accidentally selected The NTSB declined to comment on the contribution this factor had in the crash, if any. His ashes were later scattered into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.

Secretary of Defense William Cohen. She was two or three miles away from the crash site.

Does This Scenario Explain JFK Jr.'s Plane Crash?

President Bill Clinton ordered that the flags at the White House be lowered to half-staff to honor Kennedy. We dared to think, in that other Irish phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side. But, like his father , he had every gift but length of years. Kennedy's last will and testament, signed 18 months before his death, stipulated that all of his personal belongings, property, and holdings were to be "evenly distributed" among his two nieces, Rose and Tatiana, and nephew, John , who were among 14 beneficiaries in the will.

Episodes of the two Canadian series, Final 24 and Air Disasters , both explore the details of Kennedy's life and death, and the events surrounding the plane crash. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This section needs additional citations for verification.

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