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What's with these good looking Kennedy guys? Are they cursed?)
Plane Carrying JFK Jr., Wife Missing
Coast Guard Retrieves
Debris Including Luggage
By David Ruppe
July 17 —A plane carrying John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife and her sister to Martha’s Vineyard is missing today, as the Coast Guard reports recovering debris just off the Massachusetts island.
Timeline of Events
Friday, 8:45 p.m.: Plane takes off from Caldwell, N.J.
9:39 p.m.: Last radio contact.
10:00 p.m.: Projected arrival time.
Saturday, 2:15 a.m.: Emergency beacon signal received.
Saturday, dawn: Rescue teams begin search.
7:00 a.m.: President Clinton informed of missing plane.
Saturday, after 2 p.m.: Coast Guard reports finding debris.
Kennedy was traveling with his wife Carolyn Bessette and her sister Lauren Bessette. They were headed for the wedding of a cousin, Rory Kennedy, daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, in Hyannisport, Mass.
A Coast Guard official said searchers found pieces of luggage, a head rest and some carpeting. The Coast Guard has identified the owner of the luggage, and said that it belonged to someone on the plane, but would not say who.
A massive search operation continues, involving the Federal Aviation Administration and aircraft and boats from the Coast Guard, Air Force National Guard, the Civilian Air Patrol from five states and other local authorities.
The plane took off last night around 8:30 p.m. from Caldwell, N.J. An official at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport said this morning Kennedy’ plane never arrived. One search is under way near Mattituck, N.Y. (ABCNEWS.com / Magellan Geographix)
“We have every available boat searching,” said Coast Guard spokesman Brent Erb.
Sources tell ABCNEWS that at one point radar showed the plane at 2,200 feet, but 12 seconds later, it was at 1,300 feet — indicating the plane might have been in a dive.
The type of plane missing, a one-propeller, Piper Saratoga II, is capable of gliding safely to a landing in the event of engine failure.
“Just like everyone else, I am praying as hard as I can ,” attorney
Kevin Callahan, a former aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy, told ABCNEWS.com this
morning. “At the compound, the family just got through with a Mass and
saying their prayers that John will be found and will be safe.”
The Coast Guard’s search is centering on waters off the west coast of Martha ’s Vineyard.
However, the search also included the north and south shorelines of Long Island, waters surrounding the island and along the presumed flight path up to Cape Cod, and out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Kennedy did not file a flight plan, though he was not required to. President Clinton was told of the situation this morning by Chief ofStaff John Podesta and has spoken to Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Kennedy’ s sister Caroline.
The plane took off last night around 8:30 p.m. from Caldwell, N.J. An official at the Vineyard Haven airport on Martha’s Vineyard said this morning it never arrived.
The family contacted the FAA to report the aircraft missing around 2 a.m. and the agency began checking airports along the route, sources say.
The Coast Guard said the FAA alerted them around 3 a.m. The search began at dawn.
Coast Guard officials say a beacon may have been detected by a satellite sometime in the early morning, but are not sure it came from Kennedy’s aircraft.
The signal was detected west of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., somewhere between the eastern tip of Long Island and New London, Conn., — which presumably would have been along the aircraft’s flight path.
Debris was found off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. (ABCNEWS.com / Magellan Geographix)
No signal, however, since has been detected by the Coast Guard or other search parties, according to Coast Guard spokesman Cmdr. Mike Lapinski.
Experts say the beacon could continue to signal even if the aircraft was submerged, though it would be weaker in deeper water. The beacon is designed to float.
A Coast Guard jet has been searching Long Island Sound and the north and south shorelines of Long Island, Lapinski said, and two Coast Guard helicopters have been searching the waters near Martha’s Vineyard. An Air Force HC-130 jet is providing command and control operations for the various aircraft participating in the search.
Officials say a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration ship carrying sophisticated sonar for scanning the bottom of the ocean is on standby.
A Piper Saratoga II TC, similar to the one believed to be carrying
Kennedy and three other people.
Kennedy and his wife planned to stop at Martha’s Vineyard to drop off her sister, Lauren, before continuing to Hyannisport.
Kennedy recently earned a pilot’s license. According to one source familiar with his new interest in flying, Kennedy has already flown to Martha’s Vineyard. He broke his ankle last month, but it was not immediately clear whether that would have any effect on his ability to fly the plane, if he was in fact the pilot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Gina "Nanogirl" Miller
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