WASHINGTON The last radio contact from John F. Kennedy Jr. before he died when the plane he was flying crashed into the Atlantic in July 1999 was a routine "thanks" to air controllers in New Jersey for runway clearance, newly released documents showed on Wednesday.
The air traffic transcripts give no additional clues on what caused the crash off the southern New England coast that killed Kennedy, the son of the slain 35th U.S. president, his wife and sister-in-law.
"Caldwell ground, Saratoga niner two five three November, ready to taxi with mike at airbound right turnout northeastbound," Kennedy told ground controllers at the Essex County, New Jersey, airport where he began an ill-fated flight to Cape Cod in Massachusetts. He was headed to his family's storied compound for a wedding.
Kennedy, 38, was directed to a runway and then replied, "Five three november to two two, thanks." The figures announced by Kennedy represented part of the tail number that identified his high-performance Piper plane.
Kennedy was traveling with his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and her sister, Lauren Bessette on July 16, 1999. He had not filed a flight plan.
The Federal Aviation Administration transcripts also reveal a nighttime phone call to controllers from a Kennedy relative worried the plane had not shown up for its first stop in Martha's Vineyard.
The transcript identifies a woman, Carole Radziwill, who is asked by controllers if she knows the pilot's name.
"John Kennedy," she responded.
Radziwill, who at the time was married to one of Kennedy's cousins, explained Kennedy was a novice pilot and she was "just getting nervous" about his whereabouts.
Kennedy's plane was found days later in the water. Investigators determined he became disoriented in hazy flying conditions that he was not fully trained to handle.