Almanac: John Kennedy Jr.

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: July 16th, 1999, 18 years ago today … the day John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife and sister-in-law died in the crash of the small plane he was piloting.


President Kennedy and his son, "John-John," at the White House c. 1963.


The only son of our assassinated 35th President, John F. Kennedy Jr. grew up before the eyes of the world -- the Crown Prince of Camelot.

In 1995 he launched George, a political magazine named for our first President ... and there was endless speculation that he might someday run for office himself.

Dubbed "The Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine in 1988, young Kennedy was a tabloid darling ... and his 1996 marriage to Carolyn Bessette was the social event of the season.

An amateur pilot, JFK took off in a Piper Saratoga on the night of July 16 with his wife Carolyn and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette bound for Martha's Vineyard.

As Bob Orr reported for CBS News, the plane was last picked up on radar at 9:39 that Friday evening, some 17 miles from its destination, consistent with an imminent final approach to the Vineyard Haven Airport. But the plane then disappeared from radar. No emergency declaration was ever made.

Five days later, searchers found the wreckage of the plane, and the remains of its three passengers, on the ocean bottom about eight miles off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.

The bodies were cremated, their ashes scattered at sea.

A private mass was held for Kennedy and his wife in New York City, with President and Mrs. Clinton among the invited guests.

An NTSB investigation blamed the crash on "the pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane during a descent over water at night, which was the result of spatial disorientation.  Factors in the accident were haze and the dark night."

Had he lived, the dashing young JFK, Jr. so many remember of us would now be 56 years old.