John F. Kennedy Jr., Death of
John F. Kennedy Jr., Death of
The world was shocked when John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, and his sister-in-law were killed in an airplane that Kennedy was piloting. Few people were surprised when the conspiracy theorists began declaring that the crash was no accident.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr., the son of assassinated president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was America’s golden boy. Whether one was Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, straight or gay, right-handed or left-handed, it had to be admitted that this young man was handsome, charming, articulate, and relatively gossip-free. Anyone watching his easy, diplomatic handling of the press (while his lovely bride, Carolyn, got flustered by the media attention and ran for cover) marked young John as a powerful potential political force should he ever decide to run. He had won most of America’s heart in childhood as little three-year-old John-John saluted the flag-draped coffin that bore his father to Arlington Cemetery in November 1963. There was little doubt that he could also win at the voting booths on election day.
According to a number of conspiracy theorists, it was that Kennedy charisma—and the possibility that he was shortly going to reveal his political ambitions—that cost John Jr. his life.
Sherman H. Skolnick, a conspiracy theorist and writer of long standing, has said that the Kennedy family knew that on August 1, 1999, John Jr. planned to announce his decision to run for president. According to Skolnick’s sources, the Kennedys warned John that the U.S. Secret Service would not be able to protect him any better than they did his father. However, where John Jr. made his gravest error was in taking certain members of Al Gore’s presidential campaign into his confidence. John’s naiveté regarding dirty political in-fighting did not allow him to see just how dramatically an attractive, articulate young man wearing the Kennedy mantle would upset the political ambitions of Gore as well as those of the Texas governor, George W. Bush.
Skolnick reported that one of his most reliable sources told him that Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, John’s sister, warned her brother that to run for president would be like signing his own death warrant. Nevertheless, she said that she would support his decision.
On July 16, 1999, Kennedy, flying his own plane with his wife and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, aboard was on approach to Martha’s Vineyard with an eight-mile visibility. He calmly radioed the ground and told them that he would be dropping off a passenger (Lauren), then resuming the flight to Hyannis airport. In the next few minutes, according to news reports, Kennedy’s plane went into a steep dive and crashed into the ocean.
Even before the wreckage had been located, virtually all mass media outlets were reporting a very different story: There had been no conversation with ground personnel. In fact, it was reported that Kennedy had not used his radio at all. The eight-mile visibility gave way to statements that Martha’s Vineyard had been completely blanketed with a fog and haze so thick that any pilots in the air would have been unable to see a thing and would have had to rely on instruments.
Reports swirled through the media that JFK Jr. had been lost, disoriented, flying in difficult conditions far beyond his experience as a pilot. However, Boston’s WCVB-TV News stated that Kennedy had radioed his approach to Martha’s Vineyard and that radar showed his plane just where he said it was and at the correct altitude for an approach.
False reports continued to appear in the media:
Kennedy stalled the plane.
The radar track showed he was well above stall speed.
Kennedy went into a steep turn and lost his horizon in the pea-soup fog.
There was absolutely no reason for him to go into a steep turn; he was already lined up with the main runway.
Kennedy lost his instruments, and in the heavy haze and darkness he grew confused about his altitude and flew into the ocean.
The radar received good data from his encoding altimeter. All the instruments in Kennedy’s airplane were operating properly.
It was well known that Kennedy was a reckless pilot.
Individuals actually familiar with JFK Jr.’s aeronautical abilities stated that he was a careful and skilled pilot.
JFK Jr. had only forty air hours as a pilot.
Kennedy had forty hours in that particular aircraft. His total experience was about three hundred hours—more than enough, according to the FAA, to qualify for a commercial pilot’s license.
Sherman Skolnick states that he and certain of his associates obtained the details of a secret FBI report that revealed the truth: that JFK Jr.’s plane had been sabotaged by a bomb. The report, which was to have been sealed for thirty years, supposedly detailed the steps involved in the cover-up. “Within 48 hours of the time the FBI knew we had their secret report,” Skolnick said, “they mysteriously announced, without explanation, that henceforth all public visits would be cancelled to the Bureau’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. They claimed unspecified ‘terrorists’ were threatening them.”
Conspiracy theorists are firm in their conviction that John F. Kennedy Jr. was murdered before he could make his announcement on August 1, 1999, that he would run for president. If he had lived and won the election, he would have been forty years old, just slightly younger than his father when he ran for president.