Evidence is mounting, meanwhile, that pilot disorientation may have been the cause of the fatal crash. Radar data released by the NTSB Tuesday shows that Kennedy turned out of his descent 20 miles from the airport and climbed back to 2,600 feet, leveling off briefly before making a second turn to the right and starting a precipitous plunge that may have exceeded 5,000 feet per minute, 10 times the normal speed. "A pilot not rated to fly by instruments can very easily lose his orientation when the horizon disappears in the darkness and the haze," says TIME aviation correspondent Jerry Hannifin. "In that situation, the pilot has a responsibility to turn back." Alas, turning back was not John Kennedy’s way.
The man who, as a boy, etched his place in the nation’s heart at the funeral of his own father was to be buried at sea Thursday, along with his wife and sister-in-law. The bodies of John F. Kennedy Jr., Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and Lauren Bessette were found Wednesday on the ocean floor off Martha’s Vineyard, four days after their small plane crashed on a Friday-night flight to the Massachusetts island. Following a request by the Kennedy family, which the Pentagon granted, the Navy destroyer USS Briscoe was dispatched to the area in anticipation of a burial at sea. The bodies were cremated. A memorial service for Kennedy and his wife will be held in New York City on Friday; a separate service for Lauren Bessette is scheduled for Saturday in Greenwich, Conn.