Pilots recall what happened the night JFK Jr.’s plane went missing

"As a pilot myself, I was concerned with flying over water at nighttime. I opted to be on the safe side and scrub the flight."

When private pilot Bob Arnot was flying over the Atlantic Ocean toward Nantucket on the evening of July 16, 1999, he told his nephew to look out the window to spot Martha’s Vineyard.

“He said, ‘I can’t see it,” Arnot told ABC News. “I looked out of the airplane window, and I said, ‘I can’t see it either.'”

Almost 20 years after John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and her sister Lauren Bessette died in a plane crash en route to a Kennedy family wedding in Hyannis Port, ABC will air a two-hour primetime special Thursday night at 9 p.m. about the late son of John F. Kennedy.


“The Last Days of JFK Jr.” features interviews from numerous expert sources, including pilot Kyle Bailey, who saw JFK Jr. at the airport on the evening of his fateful flight, and Arnot, who knew JFK Jr. and flew a similar route (from New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport to Nantucket) on the same night at around the same time JFK Jr. was in the air.

Bailey said he saw JFK Jr. and the Bessette sisters at Essex County Airport in Fairfield, N.J. shortly before their flight departed. Bailey had canceled his own plans to make the same flight because he feared the combination of darkness and haze in Fairfield that evening, according to the Washington Post.

“As a pilot myself, I was concerned with flying over water at nighttime,” Bailey said. “I opted to be on the safe side and scrub the flight. I really did have a bad feeling, and what went through my mind exactly was, ‘I hope he does have an instructor with him on the airplane, or he’s gonna have a problem.'”

“The Last Days of JFK Jr.” covers more than that tragic night, including details about JFK Jr.’s secret wedding to Bessette-Kennedy. According to JFK. Jr biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, Bessette-Kennedy and a friend printed out the wedding invitations in an office on a Xerox machine themselves, fearing that the information would leak if they were sent to an outside company for printing.


JFK Jr.’s former executive assistant RoseMarie Terenzio laughed when recalling her anxiety about the invitation information going public.

“At one point I was home, and I jumped up, and I was like, ‘I didn’t check the printer,'” Terenzio said. “And I ran back to the office at one o’clock in the morning, and I ran upstairs, and there was nothing in the printer.”