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Farewell to the American Prince   

 
Leo Suresh, Leoba Media

The ashes of John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife and her sister are taking down to the Atlantic at this moment (July 22.1999 13:20) by the naval destroyer USS Briscoe* for 'Burial at Sea'.

On Saturday the July 17th America woke up hearing another tragedy struck the Kennedy family.  JFK Jr. 38, son of the slain President John F. Kennedy piloted his small plane, carrying his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy 33, and her sister Lauren Bessette 34, were disappeared.

His single engine Piper Saratoga took off at 20:38 hr, from Fairfield, New Jersey, 20 Kms West of New York city enroute to Hyannis Port, the Kennedy compound to attend his cousin's wedding and planned a stop over at Martha's Vineyard to drop his sister-in-law.  When the plane was overdue, the two worried members of Kennedy family waited at the Martha's Vineyard airport, informed the 'intern' Adam, who was working at the airport late Friday evening. He called the FAA authorities at Mass. at 22:04 hr and asked whether they could trace the JFK Jr.'s plane, also added "oh, well if it's too much trouble, I'll just have 'em wait... it's not a big deal", made the matters not at all serious. The inexperienced 21 year old intern left home thinking, JFK Jr. had changed his plan of flying that hazy night.

The Kennedy Family attended the rehearsal dinner, were not aware of what was going on. Later in the wee hours of the next morning, at 2:15 they informed the FAA about JFK Jr.'s missing plane. First media reported JFK Jr.'s plane was disappeared, including the Kennedys his sister-in-law and the flight instructor. Unaccounted reports came from different corners.  Later Kennedy spokesman informed, the plane carried JFK Jr., his wife and her sister only. Media had nothing to report but speculations. Hearing the tragedy, President Clinton cut down his Ohio trip and rushed to the White House.

Coast Guards started their 'search and rescue' mission at 4:40 after a long six hours. It's a very difficult task to search without much clue. The flight was not in the FAA's flight plan (and not supposed to be if flying in better weather conditions), made the matters more worse. Satellite data showed an emergency beacon, but later it's proved wrong. Radar reports from 5 differnt sources concluded few targets but was not that accurate, made the Coast Guard's efforts tedious. One coast guard after searching more than 1200 sq.miles said in desperation "searching needle in the haystack is much more easier." As the search continued, the coverage grew and so did the media restrictions and speculations.

 
JFK Jr.'s last flight:
With his wife and her sister JFK Jr. took off at 20:38 hr on Friday night in his Piper Saratoga from Essex County Airport Fairfield, New Jersey, which's under the New York controlled airspace.

He flew Eastward along the Connecticut coast at 5600 ft until 21:26 hr and descended to 2300 ft (700 ft/mt) at Westerly Rhode Island, which's an uncontrolled airspace, about 34 miles from the Martha's Vineyard airport.

It made a right turn to the South and climbed to 2600 ft for a minute, about 18 miles from the airport at 21:39. The plane made another right turn, 30 sec into the maneuver and lost altitude rapidly to 1100 ft translated into more than 5000 ft/mt, when the normal descent is between 500 to 700 ft/mt. That was the beginning of the end.

At 21:40:29 when the plane was at 1100 ft disappeared from the radar of Controllers' Princetown, Mass., about 16.5 miles Southwest of Martha's Vineyard, in the Atlantic.

 

Links

Thiruvananthapuram, LeoBa Media, New York

Farewell to the American Prince

JFK Jr., New York