Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Noel “Butch” Baum, a wealthy insurance agent, took off in his single engine airplane to fly from Baton Rouge to Alexandria, Louisiana, for a campaign appearance. He was alone. He contacted air traffic control at the Baton Rouge airport as he was leaving their coverage area and everything seemed normal. When he did not land in Alexandria on time, a search was begun immediately. The wreckage of his plane was found in Oklahoma on a straight flight path over 500 miles beyond his original destination. Apparently he became unconscious and the autopilot continued the flight until fuel was consumed. There was no evidence of mechanical failure or explosion. Baum’s airplane did not drop straight down, like a rock. The fuel selector valve had not been moved to the “Off” position.
Several prerequisites are required prior to viewing this documentary. First and foremost is the viewing of John Hankey’s previous film about the Kennedys and the Bushes, Dark Legacy. Then, it’s necessary to buy into Hankey’s two conspiracy axioms: 1) don’t get lost in the swamp of facts surrounding their deaths (JFK Jr., his wife and sister-in-law); 2) remember that all guesses are not created equal.
From writer/director/producer/narrator John Hankey’s opening remarks it is clear that he is not only an apologist for the Kennedys, he’s a fanatic. He even blames Chappaquiddick on a conspiracy. If you didn’t buy the report of the Warren Commission (as he says JFK Jr. didn’t) and if you didn’t think Sirhan Sirhan acted alone, then this is the documentary for you! If you follow my columns, you know that I’m a believer and love a good conspiracy theory.
The Assassination of JFK Jr. begins with a brief review of Hankey’s theory of why President Kennedy was killed and by whom. He talks about the Kennedys' commitment to peace and replays Eisenhower’s warning of problems with the military industrial complex. Rather than communists (like Senator McCarthy), Hankey finds Nazis under every rock.
Next we hear the five introductory points: 1) Word War II isn’t over (following the same money trail that financed Hitler); 2) the Kennedy Curse (was Taylor Caldwell correct?); 3) who would want to kill JFK, Jr.? (it’s hereditary); 4) the prime suspects (who killed his father?); 5) not a “W” (we’ll leave this to your imagination).
My primary interest in this DVD was the question, “What is the motive?” and Hankey comes through with a rather thin, but plausible motive, especially if he is correct in his prediction that JFK Jr. would have eventually run for a national office. Had Junior done so would that really have been a threat to the rich and powerful? I thought the Kennedys were rich and powerful.
The heart of The Assassination of JFK Jr. is a series of documented facts presented in what appears to be chronological order as the events unfolded. Hankey then asks logical questions that flow from these facts. Some of the questions could be rhetorical but, rhetorical or not, Hankey answers them. Now is when the viewer has to make a decision. Do we believe Hankey or not? Have we become so caught up in the emotions evoked by the introduction that we will believe anything? This is where he brings out his axiom that all guesses aren’t created equal. Follow along with his guesses as he connects the dots between real events and his cast of suspects and shady characters.
No evidence of mechanical failure or an explosion. Then why did the plane suddenly drop like a rock, straight down — no glide?
Last contact was with the tower on Martha’s Vineyard at 9:39 PM. FAA regulations say search should begin after five minutes of lost contact. Why did it take 15.5 hours for the search to begin?
Shortly after the last contact with the MV tower, the Pentagon takes over. Why did the Pentagon take over from the FAA and the Coast Guard?
Senator Ted Kennedy reports the plane missing at 11:00 PM. Why was no search begun then?
When the search was finally begun, the USAF began searching 20,000 square miles of ocean nowhere near Martha’s Vineyard. Why? ATC knew the plane was on final approach five minutes from MV.
The fuel selector valve had been moved to the “OFF” position. Why?
Family members reported a fourth person on the flight. JFK Jr. in 17 years had never flown without an instructor on board. Why wouldn’t he have one now?
Why was the duffel with the flight log that listed all passengers never found when all the other luggage was?
ABC News reported that they knew from the flight locator exactly where the flight hit the water. Why would the USAF search 20,000 square miles of ocean nowhere near Martha’s Vineyard?
A rear admiral and a lieutenant colonel made statements (lies) in press conferences that conflicted with statements from the Kennedy family, air traffic controllers, and hard evidence. Why would they do that?
Hankey serves up some attention-getting answers that will leave you scratching your head and trusting the government even less. The DVD has no extra features although an epilogue offers the results on Hankey’s research regarding the involvement of Henry Kissinger in these matters. Kennedy's plane crashed on July 16, 1999.