“He’d been flying for a long time. He was a very meticulous pilot,” author John Koerner says in the latest episode of the “Fatal Voyage: The Death of JFK Jr.” podcast. “He knew what he was doing, never took any risks. So that could not have been the reason for the accident. It could never have been his fault. It must have been something else.”
On the night of JFK Jr.’s death, the attorney took off from Essex County Airport in New Jersey in his Piper Saratoga aircraft. The group was headed to Martha’s Vineyard in the Dukes County, Massachusetts, for his cousin Rory Kennedy’s wedding. The nuptials were set to commence at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.
JFK Jr. and company had planned to make a pit stop in Martha’s Vineyard, where they also dropped off Bessette’s sister, before venturing to Hyannis for the ceremony. However, something went awry nearly an hour after take off.
When the plane didn’t arrive on schedule, it was reported missing and their loved ones feared for the worst. Divers later recovered what was left of their bodies from the Atlantic ocean floor on July 21, 1999, and it ultimately confirmed their groups’ deaths.
The official explanation for the crash is that it was an accident caused by pilot error, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Others speculated that it was a suicide attempt due to JFK Jr.’s alleged relationship struggles and failing publication, but homicide detective Colin McLaren believes that this theory is “a stretch.”
John Hankey, writer and director of Kennedy documentary Dark Legacy, also provides “powerful evidence” that JFK Jr. may have been targeted and possibly murdered.
“Another issue is that the FAA says he did not contact any of the flight control people on his path,” he says. “And all of his flight instructors, the ones that I was able to talk to, they couldn’t believe it.”
Hankey continues, “They thought that that was absolutely outrageous, in the most extreme terms, that anyone would suggest that he didn’t contact air traffic control facilities everywhere along your route, so they can advise you of any unforeseen abnormalities that you might be flying into, is just beyond belief.”
The Pentagon took over the reporting of JFK Jr.’s plane crash that afternoon. “Why is the Pentagon taking over the reporting of John’s plane crash? Well, that’s another screaming sign,” adds Hankey. “They’re the military taking over the reporting, and in their taking over the reporting, they announced that there was no flight instructor on the plane. Well, they had no way of knowing.”
The director notes how he later looked up a public report from a man who studied the air conditions that fateful evening. “There was no rain, there was no fog, it was fine. And in fact, people on the ground confirm this … So we can rule out any bad weather,” he shares. “There were no conditions that could have caused disorientation.”
Koerner also claims he found witnesses to an explosion in the sky where the plane would have been at the time. He explains how JFK Jr. was “obsessed” with finding out who killed his father, John F. Kennedy, which could have allegedly been the catalyst to someone plotting his murder.
JFK Jr. wanted to discover the truth, says reporter Leon Wagner. “With his own money, he was going to reopen the investigation, and then that’s when he died and that was obviously the end of it.”
New episodes of “Fatal Voyage: The Death of JFK Jr.” are released every Wednesday.
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