Flying at night is a strange experience in which perceptions of position and motion can become seriously distorted. It has to be experienced to be properly appreciated.
JFK, Jr. probably appreciated it once it was too late.
happened to a Kennedy in fact.
The thing I don't understand is how he would see Venus when flying east (Toronto to Zurich) in the evening over the Atlantic. Venus is high and bright in the western sky right now. It's visible from sunset until maybe midnight or so. How would he think this was an oncoming plane if he was flying east?
The investigation found that the first officer, who had been asleep for about 75 minutes, was suffering "sleep inertia" magnified by fatigue. The report notes flight crews did not fully understand the risks associated with fatigue, nor were they following standard procedures for "strategic napping," which is normally of 40 minutes duration.
Speaking as a retired fighter pilot, I verify that statement as absolute truth.
Nothing like being in the air, and feeling SO LOST you don't even know where the Planet is.