Daytona Beach, FL – Researchers at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach say they have proof that former President John F. Kennedy learned to fly at an Embry-Riddle seaplane base in Miami during World War II.
In 2004, ERAU alumnus and flight instructor Helen Hassey recounted the story of Kennedy’s flight training to then Dean of the University’s Heritage Project, Bob Rockett. She said Kennedy took flight lessons at the seaplane base while he was in the Navy during World War II. Hassey passed away in 2012.
No additional information could be found until 2016 when a website for the Shapell Manuscript Foundation showed authenticated pages from a flight log signed by Kennedy. The findings were verified by ERAU archivist Kevin Montgomery.
“The flights recorded in the log took place over a 10-day period in May of 1944, in Miami, in Piper Cub seaplanes, the same type of aircraft used at the seaplane base,” says Montgomery. “I cross-checked the airplane tail numbers from Kennedy’s flight log entries with photographs of our seaplane fleet in the archives and found a match.”
Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley examined the documents. Brinkley concluded that the flight logbook was authentic and that it proved Kennedy trained with ERAU.
“JFK was staying in Palm Beach at his father’s home during the same weeks shown in his log book,” says Brinkley. “He had a love of aviation and coastal areas, so it all makes sense. I would call it a fact that JFK trained to fly with Embry-Riddle in Miami.”
A 1944 flight log from ERAU alumna and seaplane pilot Corinne Smith also confirmed that Kennedy had taken the flight lessons.
The anniversary of Kennedy’s birthday is on May 29. He would be 101 if he were still alive today.
You can find more information and a link to a video about the findings here.
All photos courtesy of ERAU.