Matrix of the Tragic Crash of JFK Jr. (preliminary) by John deHaan of Canada

We wish to express our sympathy for the loss of John Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn, and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette. Their Piper Saratoga airplane appears to have gone down just short of Martha's Vineyard about 9:30 pm on July 16, 1999.

From NTSB Report: The pilot's estimated total flight experience was about 310 hours, of which 55 hours were at night. The pilot's estimated flight time in the accident airplane was about 36 hours, of which about 9.4 hours were at night. About 3 hours of that time was without a certified flight instructor (CFI) on board, and about 0.8 hour of that was flown at night and included a night landing. In the 15 months before the accident, the pilot had flown either to or from the destination area about 35 times. The pilot flew at least 17 of these flight legs without a CFI on board, of which 5 were at night. Within 100 days before the accident, the pilot had completed about 50 percent of a formal instrument training course.

John may have gotten into a situation beyond his experience and training. He only had 3 hours total in that specific airplane without a flight instructor onboard and only 0.8 hours at night with 1 night landing without a flight instructor onboard. While he may have flown the route 35 times (to or from Martha's Vineyard), those were generally all daytime flights. Flying over water in hazy, dark conditions may have disoriented him. His formal instrument training should have enabled him to safely fly, but it is likely that all his formal instrument training was with a flight instructor onboard. On the fateful flight, he did not have a flight instructor onboard to watch and correct his actions.

This matrix is a preliminary work, and will probably be expanded in time.


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