Buddy Holly plane crash to be reinvestigated

Discussion in 'Buddy Holly's fans' social room' started by daisymaeholly, Apr 4, 2015.

  1. daisymaeholly

    daisymaeholly Lead Admin Staff Member Administrator

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    Published: 00:35, 4 March 2015 | Updated: 02:05, 4 March 2015
    By Joel Christie


    An investigation into the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and three others could now be reopened after a respected pilot brought forward new factors as to how the aircraft may have gone down.

    At the time of the crash, the Civil Aeronautics Board ruled the probable cause of the crash was error by the pilot, Roger Peterson, who took off from Mason City to Moorhead, Minnesota, in inclement weather, even though he was qualified. The chartered plane crashed in Iowa not long after takeoff, killing Holly, Peterson, and musicians Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson.

    Now L.J. Coon, an experienced pilot from New England, says a variety of other factors - such as weight and balance calculations, the rate of the plane's climb and descent, fuel gauge readings and the passenger-side rudder - should have been considered, according to The Globe Gazette.

    The National Transportation Safety Board has agreed to consider reopening the investigation. Coon's motivation was to 'the heroic effort that took place in those 4.9 miles' by the pilot, Peterson, before the plane crashed. The plane had been in the air less than four minutes.

    Coon received a letter from the NTSB saying they had received his call for a reinvestigation. 'You have gotten our attention. Let us do our due diligence in order to give you a proper answer,' the letter stated. The NTSB will now determine whether or not the submission meets the requirements of a Petition for Reconsideration. History and many other people believe that Peterson was the direct cause of the February 3, 1959 crash.

    Gary W. Moore, author of Hey Buddy, a book about Holly's life, told the Globe Gazaette that the Aeronautics Board got it right 56 years ago. 'I think that what (a new investigation) is going to find it is its pretty simple,' Moore said. 'The pilot was unqualified to fly in those conditions and he lost control of the airplane.'

    Holly, a rockabilly pioneer, was only 22-years-old when he died, with a career lasting 18 months. Despite such a short time, Rolling Stone in 2004 ranked Holly as number 13 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
     
  2. daisymaeholly

    daisymaeholly Lead Admin Staff Member Administrator

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    Federal traffic safety board considering fresh look at Buddy Holly crash
    Globe Gazette March 02, 2015 2:00 pm • Peggy Senzarino

    CLEAR LAKE | The National Transportation Safety Board has agreed to consider reopening the investigation into the crash which killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson on Feb. 3, 1959. On Sept. 23, 1959, the Civil Aeronautics Board ruled the probable cause of the crash was pilot error. Weather, specifically snow, was listed as a secondary cause of the crash.

    The NTSB was established in 1967, taking over the investigation of airline crashes. A New England man and experienced pilot, L.J. Coon, recently petitioned the NTSB asking it to take another look at the findings. Coon contends there are issues involving weight and balance calculations, the rate of the aircraft's climb and descent, fuel gauge readings and whether a passenger-side rudder pedal was removed or not which the NTSB should investigate.

    He received a letter from the NTSB's Office of the Managing Director dated Feb. 19, 2015, stating specialists are looking into information Coon provided. An initial response will take approximately two months. Then it can take from six months to a year to determine if the petition will be granted. "You have gotten our attention. Let us do our due diligence in order to give you a proper answer," the letter stated.

    In an email to the Globe Gazette, Coon said he believes the NTSB will review the pilot's actions in the aircraft during the flight and realize "the heroic effort that took place in those 4.9 miles." The plane was airborne for less than four minutes, traveling less than 5 miles north of the Mason City Municipal Airport before crashing into a Clear Lake farm field. Holly, Valens and Richardson had performed the night before the crash at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake as part of the Winter Dance Party tour.

    The author of a book about Buddy Holly contends the Aeronautics Board got it right 56 years ago. Gary W. Moore, Bourbonnais, Illinois, said an inexperienced pilot, high performance aircraft and bad weather combined to cause the crash. "I think that what they are going to find it is its pretty simple. The pilot was unqualified to fly in those conditions and he lost control of the airplane," Moore said. He discounted conspiracy theories alleging a gunshot from a handgun owned by Holly brought down the plane. Barb Dwyer, wife of Jerry Dwyer, who was the fixed base operator at the airport and owner of the plane, declined to comment on Coon's attempts to reopen the crash investigation.
     
  3. daisymaeholly

    daisymaeholly Lead Admin Staff Member Administrator

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    Decision to review Buddy Holly crash will be an 'arduous' process
    Globe Gazette March 05, 2015 6:00 pm • Peggy Senzarino

    CLEAR LAKE | The National Transportation Safety Board has an arduous procedure for reconsideration of the board's findings involving a plane crash like the 1959 Clear Lake crash dubbed "the day the music died."

    Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson were killed when their 1947 Beech Bonanza crashed just minutes after takeoff from the Mason City Municipal Airport. The men had played the Surf Ballroom the night before as part of a multi-city tour titled Winter Dance Party. The men were heading to Fargo, North Dakota, the closest airport to Moorhead, Minnesota, the next stop on the concert tour.

    A New England man, L.J. Coon, has filed a petition seeking a review of the Sept. 23, 1959, report by the Civil Aeronautics Board which laid the majority of the blame for the crash on the pilot Peterson. The NTSB generally receives less than a dozen petitions for reconsideration or modification each year. The petitions are reviewed under the provisions of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) -- Chapter 845.41. Reviews are granted only if based on the discovery of new evidence or on a showing that the board's findings are erroneous, according to the chapter section. Crash investigations are never closed, according to the NTSB.

    A NTSB response to Coon's petition dated Feb. 19 states the agency hopes to determine if his request meets the criteria for a petition sometime within the next two months. The agency will have to visit a Federal Archive facility to locate the original crash report and then decide if Coon provided new evidence or proved the CAB findings were incorrect. If Coon's petition does meet the criteria, it can take six months to a year to decide if the petition will be granted; in other words, if the NTSB will change the probable cause of the crash.

    According to the CAB report, the plane carrying Charles Hardin Holley, Richard Valenzuela and J.P. Richardson crashed at approximately 1 a.m. about five miles north of the airport. The aircraft took off toward the south in a normal manner, turned and climbed to an estimated alitutude of 800 feet and then headed in a northwesterly direction, observers reported. After about five miles, the tail light of the aircraft appeared to descend gradually until it disappeared from sight. Attempts to contact the aircraft by radio were unsuccessful. The wreckage was found the next morning.

    "This accident, like so many before it, was caused by the pilot's decision to undertake a flight in which the likelihood of encountering instrument conditions existed, in the mistaken belief that he could cope with en route instrument weather conditions, without having the necessary familiarization with the instruments in the aircraft and without being properly certified to fly solely by instruments," the 1959 report states.

    Peterson, 21, was employed by Dwyer Flying Service as a commercial pilot and flight instructor. He had been with Dwyer for about a year. Since starting to fly in October 1954, Peterson had logged 711 flying hours, 128 of which were in the Bonanza aircraft. Peterson had passed his instrument written examination but failed an instrument flight check on March 21, 1958.

    When his instrument training was taken, several different aircraft were used and were all equipped with the conventional type artificial horizon. None of them had the Sperry F3 Attitude Gyro which was installed in the Beech Bonanza. The displays in the two instruments are very different, according to the crash report. The crash report also discusses the weather at the time of takeoff. Light snow had begun to fall and the ceiling and visibility were lowering.

    "It is believed that shortly after takeoff Pilot Peterson entered an area of complete darkness and one in which there was no definite horizon; that the snow conditions and the lack of horizon required him to rely solely on flight instruments for aircraft attitude and orientation," the CAB report states. In the wake of the crash, a safety message was issued for pilots warning about the use of both the attitude gyro and artificial horizon. "Unless the pilot is highly skilled in instrument flying and can re-orient himself by use of the other instruments in the cockpit, this period of disorientation can be fatal," the safety message read.

    In all capital letters the message continues, "Know your aircraft equipment, its capabilities and limitations. Do not rely upon any equipment under circumstances requiring its use of the safe conduct of the flight until you have acquired sufficient experience under simulated conditions to insure your ability to use it properly."
     

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