This week marks the 60th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Did you know that JFK’s final flight occurred less than an hour before his assassination and was only a 30-mile, 13-minute flight aboard SAM 26000, the customized Boeing 707 that served as Air Force One?
JFK’s Last Flight: A 13-Minute Jaunt Less Than Hour Before His Death
President Kennedy and the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy arrived in Texas on November 21, 1963 for a two-day, five-city tour. Texas was deemed a must-win state and there was much bickering within the Democratic Party that Kennedy sought to assuage on the trip.
His first stop was San Antonio, then Houston. On the morning of November 22nd, he began his day in Fort Worth, making remarks at a breakfast held by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. Then he traveled to Carswell Air Force Base where he made a 30-mile, 13-minute flight to Dallas Love Field (LUV) aboard Air Force One.
He was greeted by a cheering crowd at Love Field and welcomed by Vice President Lyndon Johnson and Governor John Connally. The President and Mrs. Kennedy took a seat with Governor Connally and his wife in an open convertible.
Less than 40 minutes later, as the presidential motorcade turned down Elm Street and passed Dealey Plaza, gunfire suddenly erupted from the Texas School Book Depository. The Governor was shot, the President was shot and killed.
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It is interesting to ponder whether JFK might have survived had he flown into DFW (then not even a concept) instead of LUV. Dallas-Fort Worth International opened in 1974. The truth is he probably would have still eventually taken the same route down Harwood Street, with a right on Main Street, right on Houston Street, left on Elm Street, and then through Dealey Plaza where he was shot. Nevertheless, it’s still interesting to ponder.
I’ve visited Dealey Plaza, The Grassy Knoll, and the Texas School Book Depository. It’s amazing to think about what happened there and while I am a strong skeptic of most conspiracy theories, the assassination of President Kennedy always makes me wonder. For 60 years the nation has wondered…
While we live in a very turbulent and partisan period in American history, I am thankful it has been 60 years since a President was assassinated (thankfully, President Reagan survived the attempt against his life). We tend to think of America as a place that grows more dangerous as time goes on and in some ways it does, but let’s not forget that the US has a rich history of gun violence and presidential assassination and assassination attempts, including four sitting presidents that were killed.
So much of the world has changed, but in some ways, nothing has changed. It remains a dangerous place indeed…
image: Kennedy Library