5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About JFK Jr.

On July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy, Jr.; his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy; and her sister, Lauren Bessette, died when the single-engine plane that Kennedy was piloting plunged into the Atlantic Ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Here are five things you didn't know about JFK Jr.

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JFK Jr. Had Not Qualified to Fly With Instruments Only. The conditions in which JFK Jr. had to fly that night would have required having to navigate by instrument only and no visual help. However, he had not been qualified -- meaning he hadn't taken the qualification test -- to fly with instruments only. This could have contributed to his plane crash.

He Was Flying a Relatively Unfamiliar Plane on Little Sleep With a Potentially Compromised Ankle The disappearance of a plane can seem mysterious and nearly mythical, but in JFK Jr.'s case, his plane may have disappeared because of very mundane causes. First, he wasn't used to flying the type of plane he was in. He'd had some practice, but not a lot, so the plane was still somewhat unfamiliar. There were also indications that he got very little sleep the night before. His ankle was also recovering from an injury and had just been released from a cast. All of those put together make for a questionable flight in hazy darkness.

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He Had a Chance to Become an Actor in College While JFK Jr. was known for his publishing and legal work, he was also known for his acting skill, which he honed in college. It turns out that he was very interested in becoming an actor and may have had the opportunity to be in a film. However, his mother, Jackie Kennedy, did not approve of the choice and persuaded him to go to law school instead.

He Once Wanted to Rappel Down Mt. Rushmore In 1999, JFK Jr. was under a lot of stress, partly from his magazine's financial troubles. His way of coping with this type of stress tended toward physical risk-taking that sometimes bordered on the ridiculous. Case in point, his reaction to the magazine's potential problems was to ask park rangers if he could rappel down Mount Rushmore. The rangers declined his request.

He Was Also Known for Playing "Chicken" in a Kayak Against the Staten Island Ferry One hopes this is just an exaggeration by a friend, but one of JFK Jr.'s biographers did make a statement to ABC News that JFK Jr. had some rather alarming yet amazing risk-taking habits. The biographer mentioned that JFK Jr. would take a kayak out and somehow play chicken against the Staten Island Ferry. He was also prone to swimming so far out at the beach that his friends would lose sight of him and get ready to call emergency services. Luckily he would always show up, unharmed.