The plane literally fell out of the sky into Long Island Sound at a high rate of descent. Kennedy’s flight path is well known by now. Here’s the record of the final minute of the flight:
21:39 (9:39 PM) The aircraft entered a left turn (towards the East) and climbed to 2,600 feet. As it continued in the turn the aircraft began a descent. Soon, the aircraft was descending at 900 feet per minute. which is 10 miles an hour. From 2,600 feet it would have hit the water in 2.9 minutes. That would be more than enough time for JFK Jr. to recover .
The aircraft stopped turning, flying East now, towards the Martha’s Vineyard airport but it continued to descend at 900 feet per minute.
20:40:15 Still descending, the aircraft entered a right turn. As the turn rate increased, the descent rate and the airspeed also increased. That’s the mark of a poor pilot. As an aircraft is turned the wings lose some lift so the pilot would raise the nose a bit to keep it at the same altitude. the airspeed would decrease but JFK Jr’s airspeed increased indicating he didn’t try to keep the plane level.
21:40 Radar contact with the aircraft was lost. The last radar signal showed it at 1,100 feet flying the wrong way, away from Martha’s Vineyard.
At the end, the aircraft was descending at 4,700 feet per minute. That’s 53 miles an hour down. You have never, ever been in an airplane that was going down at 53 miles and hour. At 53 miles and hour it would fly into the water from 1,100 feet in 14 seconds. That’s not enough time for an upset pilot to figure out what’s going on and recover the aircraft.
The question is: why was the aircraft descending at 53 miles an hour? One conclusion is the elevator control, the wire going from the pilot’s control wheel to the elevator snapped or was severed. It’s about 1/8 inch thick and more than strong enough to control the elevators but if it was partially severed it would snap when it was pulled on hard as JFK Jr. tried to get the aircraft to stop descending. The engine was running when the aircraft hit the water.
Or, the elevator cable could have been rubbing on something and it finally snapped. Or it could have been purposely severed during the flight with perhaps an explosive.
But the aircraft was inspected after the crash and there’s no report that the elevator called the stabilator cable was broken. It notes however that “Control cable circuitry for the stabilator trim was established from the control surfaces to the cockpit area. An examination of the stabilator trim barrel jackscrew revealed that (only?) one full thread was protruding out of the upper portion of the trim barrel assembly housing. The barrel assembly was free to rotate and had the trim control cable wrapped around it. An examination of the stabilator trim barrel jackscrew revealed that the two cable ends were separated (broken) about 41 inches and 37 inches, respectively, from the barrel assembly winding. Examination of the separations revealed evidence consistent with tensile overload.” The conclusion would be: the stabilator trim cable had broken when the stabilator was torn from the fuselage.
OTOH did the stabilator trim cause the stabilator to be stuck in a nose-down position which would have caused the aircraft to rapidly descend? Would only “one full thread” protruding indicate the stabilator trim was almost full nose down?
And, …why did the trim cable seperate but the stabilator cables didn’t? They all are in the same area…
Or, …. Was the trim in the full nose up position indicating JFK Jr. was trying to get the stabilator in the full up position to stop the descent?
Or, … was the trim cable broken before the rapid descent? Was it sabotaged? . Hummmm
Read the NTSB report HERE. .