Transportation board considering reopening Buddy Holly crash

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board is looking into a request to reopen the investigation of the Iowa plane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

The Civil Aeronautics Board ruled in 1959 that the most likely cause of the crash was pilot error. Snow was listed a secondary cause.

The Globe Gazette reports that the board has agreed to consider another investigation after receiving a letter from New England pilot L.J. Coon. He contended that there were other issues involving weight and balance calculations, the rate of the plane’s climb and descent, fuel gauge readings and the passenger-side rudder.

“You have gotten our attention,” the NTSB said in a letter to Coon. “Let us do our due diligence in order to give you a proper answer.”

Board spokesman Terry Williams told The Associated Press that all requests to reconsider past investigations are handled in the same fashion to determine if the case warrants reopening. He said less than 10 such requests are made annually across all modes of transportation, with less than 50 percent of cases reopened.

An initial response to Coon’s information will take about two months. It could then take up to a year to decide if the petition will be granted.

Gary W. Moore, who wrote a book about Holly, believes that the Civil Aeronautics Board made the right decision when it blamed the Feb. 3, 1959, crash on errors by pilot Roger Peterson, who also died. The plane crashed into a farm field in Clear Lake less than four minutes after takeoff from the Mason City Municipal Airport.

“I think that what they are going to find is its pretty simple,” Moore said. “The pilot was unqualified to fly in those conditions and he lost control of the airplane.”


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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