US considers new Buddy Holly plane crash probe

A group of men view the wreckage of the light aircraft. Picture: Getty
A group of men view the wreckage of the light aircraft. Picture: Getty
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SAFETY investigators in the United States say they are reviewing a request to reopen a probe into the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly.

The crash in Iowa on February 3, 1959 claimed the lives of the 22-year-old rock and roll musician, and fellow musicians Ritchie Valens, 17, and 28-year-old JP ‘The Big Bopper’ Richardson.

Buddy Holly in a picture taken some time in 1959. Picture: AP

Buddy Holly in a picture taken some time in 1959. Picture: AP

The aicraft’s pilot, 21-year-old Roger Peterson also died in the crash, just hours after the musicians had performed a gig in Clear Lake.

They opted to charter a small plane to reach the next tour date in Minnesota after experiencing bus trouble.

Holly’s backing musicians, Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup along with Dion DeMucci of Dion and the Belmonts, who were also performing on the tour, all avoided the crash by chance.

Jennings reportedly swapped places with the flu-stricken Richardson while Allsup lost his place on the plane to Valens after the pair tossed a coin. DeMucci decided not to pay the $36 fee (about $291 today) to board the aircraft.

The original investigation conducted by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) determined that the crash had been caused by Peterson’s decision to embark on an instrument-guided flight he was not certified for, and on poor weather.

But the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have received a request from New England resident and experienced pilot LJ Coon to reconsider the decision.

According to the Mason City Globe Gazette, the request claims that there were additional issues the NTSB should investigate, including weight and balance calculations, the rate of the plane’s climb and descent, fuel gauge readings and if a passenger-side rudder pedal was removed.

In an email sent to the newspaper, Mr Coon said he believed the Board would review Peterson’s actions during the flight and realise ‘the heroic effort that took place in those 4.9 miles’.

A spokesperson for the NTSB said: “We are reviewing the petition to reconsider the Buddy Holly crash, based on criteria in our regs (regulations).”

The NTSB’s regulations dictate that petitions must be based on the finding of new evidence, or on a showing that the findings are erroneous and not on previously advanced positions.


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