N E W Y O R K, July 11, 2000 -- Long before the Piper Saratoga that John F.Kennedy Jr. was piloting crashed off Martha’s Vineyard on the hazynight of July 16, 1999, Jackie Kennedy Onassis feared her son woulddie in a plane crash.
“In the latter years of her life, Jackie had a recurringpremonition that John would be killed piloting his own plane. Shepleaded with Maurice [Tempelsman, her longtime companion] to dowhatever it took to keep John from becoming a pilot,” says a newbook, The Day John Died, which chronicles the fatal accident.
Although she encouraged her son to live fully, his mother couldnot stand the thought of his piloting a plane, says the book byChristopher Andersen.
It also says that an American Airlines jet changed course toavoid colliding with Kennedy’s plane that evening, that Kennedy andwife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy had smoothed out their maritaldifficulties and were ready to start a family, and that as early as1997 Kennedy expressed interest in running for the Senate.
Kennedy did not follow through because he feared his wife mightnot bear the strain of a heated political campaign, the book says.
Andersen, whose book is being released Tuesday by publisherWilliam Morrow, said it is based on interviews with hundreds offamily members, friends, lovers, journalists and others.
It completes Andersen’s Camelot trilogy, which also includesJack and Jackie (1996) and Jackie After Jack (1998). Italso follows his 1998 book on Princess Diana, The Day DianaDied.
Familiar Faces, Places
Calls to Kennedy’s cousin, Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy, and to Sen.Ted Kennedy, a frequent family spokesman, were not immediatelyreturned. Andersen said John’s sister Caroline and his wife’sfamily declined to be interviewed for the book.
For anyone who watched the days of media coverage surroundingKennedy’s death, most of the book’s material is familiar.
There’s the flawed weather report Kennedy saw, indicating theweather was good when it was not. There’s the huge shrine offlowers, cards and other gifts left outside Kennedy’s Manhattanloft.
And then there are the book’s 60 photographs, many of which arealso etched in the public psyche, including Little John peeping outfrom under President Kennedy’s Oval Office desk.
“There has been a lot of posthumous character assassination,”Andersen said. “But I’m a warts-and-all biographer and if John hadany character flaws, I couldn’t find them.”