JFK Jr. Plane Crash

The JFK Jr. Plane Crash: A behind-the-scenes account from July 1999

In the early hours of July 17, 1999, the world watched and waited to find out the fate of America’s son, John F. Kennedy, Jr. The night before, he took off from Essex County airport in his single-engine plane carrying his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette. They were bound for Martha’s Vineyard but never arrived.

I was a reporter in Cape Cod at the time and had a front-row seat to the media coverage. I was part of the media coverage. But I was also a young and concerned citizen, hoping for the best.

On today’s special episode of the Confident Communications Podcast, I am speaking with Capt. Webster about how the events of the day unfolded and how they were reported. When you think about the technology available to us in 1999 compared to how news is gathered and reported today, there’s an interesting parallel between how the public’s role has changed over the years.

Listen in to the insights on what news coverage looked like then and now and how I found myself reporting the tragedy (undercover) from a Massachusetts Environmental Police boat out in the waters of Martha’s Vineyard. 

Mentioned in This Episode

About Captain W. Russell “Russ” Webster

Webster is an author, consultant in maritime legal matters and adjunct instructor of homeland security at the University of New Haven. His books are based on decades as a search and rescue expert following a 26-year career in the Coast Guard. He has also served as Transportation Safety Administration deputy director for all airports and transportation venues in Massachusetts and was selected as New England’s first-ever FEMA federal preparedness coordinator. For more about Webster and his work, visit his website.

About Molly

Molly McPherson, M.S., APR, combines her knowledge of current communication practices with years of news and PR experience to help people become modern-age communicators in their industry and help to build crisis-proof businesses. From her work in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the cruise line industry in Washington, D.C., Molly develops the right plans and messaging for clients to protect and build their reputations. Molly founded Confident Communications executive learning program and frequently speaks on crisis communications, public relations and social media.

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No matter what kind of business you’re in–whether you’re a corporate executive, business owner or aspiring communications expert–you need to be an effective communicator so you can be heard, seen and stay relevant. That’s why I’m launching the Confident Leader Network–where you can find monthly trainings about relevant social media platforms and information you need to know to become an effective communicator in the 21st century.