JOHN F. KENNEDY, JR. Biography - People in the News and Media


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Name: John F. Kennedy Jr.                                                                 
Born: 25 November 1960 Washington, D.C., U.S.A.                                           
Died: 16 July 1999 Atlantic Ocean                                                         
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. (November 25, 1960 - July 16, 1999), often referred           
to as John F. Kennedy, Jr., JFK Jr., John Jr., John Kennedy or John-John, was an           
American lawyer, journalist, socialite and publisher. He was the son of                   
President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the younger                 
brother of Caroline Kennedy (as well as the older brother of the deceased                 
Patrick Bouvier Kennedy). He was known as "America's Son" for he was one of the           
few presidential children to actually be raised in the White House, and thus               
America watched him grow up.                                                               
Born 17 days after his father was elected to the presidency, John F. Kennedy, Jr.,         
was in the public spotlight from infancy. He had lived for most of the first               
three years of his life in the White House and under the eye of the media who             
adored his antics. The nickname "John-John" came from a reporter mishearing his           
father calling him ("John" spoken twice in quick succession), and the name stuck           
although the family never used it. His father was assassinated on November 22,             
1963, three days before Kennedy, Jr.'s third birthday.                                     
The funeral procession actually took place on his birthday, November 25, 1963.             
While his father's flag-draped casket was being carried out from St. Matthew's             
Cathedral, young JFK, Jr. stepped forward, and in an emotional and iconic image           
of the 1960s gave his father a final salute.                                               
John, Jr. grew up primarily on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City.         
Even as a boy, he was often photographed and still referred to publicly as "John-John",   
although Kennedy family members themselves did not use the nickname. After                 
his father's death, his mother was married to Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle             
Onassis from 1968 until the latter's death in 1975, when John was 14 years old.           
John F. Kennedy, Jr. attended The Collegiate School in New York City for the               
first through tenth grades, and later graduated from the Phillips Academy.                 
Despite a less-than-average academic record, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was accepted             
into Harvard University, from where his father and sister graduated. Kennedy               
matriculated at Brown University, graduating in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in           
history. At Brown, Kennedy was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. In 1989,         
he earned a J.D. degree from the New York University School of Law. He failed             
the New York bar exam twice before passing on the third try.                               
He spoke at the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. He was an                 
assistant district attorney in Manhattan from 1989 to 1993. In 1995, he founded           
George, a glossy politics-as-lifestyle monthly which sometimes took editorial             
aim even at members of his own family. After Kennedy's death, the magazine was             
bought out by Hachette Filipacchi Magazines and continued for over a year.                 
With falling advertising sales, the magazine folded in early 2001.                         
Through the 1980s until his death, Kennedy was an often-seen and much-photographed         
personality in Manhattan. He married Carolyn Bessette on September 21, 1996 on             
Cumberland Island in Georgia, and had dated Madonna & Sarah Jessica Parker prior           
to his marriage. Furthermore, he was rumoured to have had an affair with                   
Princess Diana, but this was unconfirmed.                                                 
On July 16, 1999, at the age of 38, John F. Kennedy Jr. was killed along with             
his wife and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, when the aircraft he was                 
piloting crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Kennedy was piloting a Piper Saratoga           
II HP from Essex County Airport in New Jersey to Martha's Vineyard where the               
Kennedy family has a vacation house. Kennedy and his wife were traveling to the           
wedding of cousin Rory Kennedy, which was then postponed. Lauren was to have               
been dropped off at Martha's Vineyard.                                                     
Kennedy had 310 hours of flight experience (the FAA requires 250 hours to                 
qualify for a commercial pilot's license), including 45 hours of night flying             
and 36 hours in the high-performance Piper Saratoga. He had completed about half           
of an instrument training course. He was not yet rated for flying in low-visibility;       
but, at the time of his crash, he was flying in conditions that were covered by           
his license. The National Transportation Safety Board investigation found no               
evidence of mechanical malfunction and determined that the probable cause was "the         
pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane during a descent over water           
at night, which was a result of spatial disorientation. Factors in the accident           
were haze, and the dark night." The report noted that spatial disorientation as           
a result of continued VFR flight into adverse weather conditions is a common               
cause of fatal airplane accidents.                                                         
According to literature found in most FAA-approved flight training books, a               
pilot's inability to see the horizon can lead to spatial disorientation. The               
inner ear may give the pilot the impression that the plane is turning when it             
isn't. It takes many hours of instrument training for a pilot to be able to fly           
in IFR conditions, conditions that most likely existed when Kennedy was flying             
on his route to Martha's Vineyard. Over the water at night there are few lights,           
and those lights that existed were most likely obscured by the haze, resulting             
in the boundary between sky and water on the horizon becoming difficult to                 
Kyle Bailey, a pilot believed to have been the last person to see Kennedy alive           
at Essex County Airport, subsequently stated that he had canceled his own flight           
to Martha's Vineyard because the enroute weather was "a little too hazy." It               
also emerged that while Kennedy had flown from Essex County Airport to the                 
Vineyard several times before, he had never done it without an instructor pilot           
aboard or at night.                                                                       
During the memorial service on July 23, 1999, Kennedy's uncle, Massachusetts               
Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, said, "We dared to think 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." And of his nephew's marriage,         
he invoked what had been said of his brother's Presidency: both lasted 1,000               
days. Then U.S. President Bill Clinton attended the service and ordered that the           
flag at the White House be lowered to half-staff in honor of John F. Kennedy, Jr.         
At President Clinton's orders, warships of the United States Navy assisted in             
the search for the downed plane. With the permission of Secretary of Defense               
William Cohen, a memorial service for the three victims was held aboard the Navy           
ship USS Briscoe. The cremated remains of Kennedy, his wife and sister-in-law             
were then scattered from the ship off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.                     
A wrongful death lawsuit brought by the Bessette family against the Kennedy               
estate concluded with an undisclosed out of court settlement. The settlement               
avoided the publicity of a public trial, as the accident facts pointed to pilot