US transportation safety investigators have said they are reviewing a request to re-open a probe into the 1959 airplane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, JP Richardson, better known as ’The Big Bopper,’ Ritchie Valens, and their pilot.
The original investigation 56 years ago conducted by the Civil Aeronautics Board blamed the crash on the pilot’s decision to embark on an instrument-guided flight he was not certified for and, secondarily, on poor weather briefing.
Numerous conspiracy theories have sought to explain why Holly’s Beechcraft Bonanza 35 crashed in February 1959 – including a suggestion a shot from Holly’s handgun killed pilot Roger Peterson.
In 2007, Peterson’s son had his father’s body exhumed to see if Holly’s gun had gone off, but an autopsy confirmed he died as a result of massive internal injuries.
The National Transportation Safety Board received a request recently from pilot LJ Coon to reconsider the decision, the Mason City Globe Gazette reported.
“We are reviewing the petition to reconsider the Buddy Holly crash, based on criteria in our regs,” the NTSB said.
Petitions must be based on the discovery of new evidence or on a showing that the findings are erroneous and not on previously advanced positions, according to NTSB regulations.
Holly and the others had just finished a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2, 1959 and because they had experienced bus trouble on the tour, opted to charter a small plane to the next date in Moorhead, Minnesota.
The airplane crashed shortly after taking off from nearby Mason City, Iowa, early the next morning, killing the musicians and the pilot who was 21.
Rock music enthusiasts remember the tragedy as “the day the music died,” a phrase immortalised by Don McLean in his 1971 hit ‘American Pie.’
“If the NTSB determines that this petition meets the criteria, then we will examine any new evidence presented and determine its merit,” it said.
Coon is challenging the findings on 12 points that include the distribution of weight in the four-seat, single-engine Bonanza and the possibility that its carburetor was clogged with ice.
“All of my efforts and the NTSB’s investigation could possibly save the lives of today’s and future pilots,” he said.
Holly, who was 22, was a seminal figure in the early days of rock ’n’ roll with hits such as ‘That’ll Be the Day,’ ‘Peggy Sue’ and ‘It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.’ He was flying to a show in Fargo, North Dakota with Valens, 17, best known for ‘La Bamba’, and Richardson, 28, famous for ‘Chantilly Lace.’
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