Published September 21, 2004
In what will be one of the eeriest auctions in American history, the first airplane owned by John F. Kennedy Jr. (search) will be sold over the Internet.
The plane, a 1977 Cessna Skyline 182 (search), is said to be in "excellent condition" and will carry a reserve price of $180,000 when it's offered by Web auctioneer Lelands.com.
But no matter what shape it's in, the three-bladed propeller plane will always carry the chilling stigma of being the aircraft John Jr. owned before crashing his second plane, a Piper Saratoga, five years ago.
The dashing son of President Kennedy bought his first set of wings in 1998 when he was issued a single-engine pilot's license, after taking lessons for more than 10 years.
But he soon decided he wanted a snazzier model and sold the original Cessna in May 1999, after purchasing the ill-fated Cessna six-seater.
That plane crashed near Martha's Vineyard on July 17, 1999, as JFK Jr. flew through dense, fog-shrouded skies on his way to a family wedding.
The horrific crash claimed his life, as well as his wife, Carolyn Bessette (search), and her older sister, Lauren.
The Cessna up for grabs is painted red, white and blue and registered N529JK — in honor of President Kennedy's May 29 birthday.
It has recently undergone a "major engine upgrade" and is ready to fly, according to Leland's.
Bidding will begin online at lelands.com on Nov. 10 and conclude on Dec. 2.
Leland's spokesman Marty Appel said the plane's owner did not want to be identified — but insisted the auction was not trying to cash in on tragedy.
"This is a piece of history. It's of historical interest to people," Appel said.
He said the 1977 Cessna model would usually sell "in the low six figures — $100,000 to $120,000" without the JFK name behind it.
JFK Jr., a former Manhattan assistant district attorney, had been editor of George magazine when he died.