Last updated: 04:45 PM ET, Wed March 04 2015

NTSB Might Take Another Look at ‘Day The Music Died’

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | March 04, 2015

NTSB Might Take Another Look at ‘Day The Music Died’

PHOTO: A statue of Buddy Holly at Buddy Holly Plaza in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)


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The Day The Music Died was 56 years ago, a moment etched in a “where were you when…?” memory for many people and a sliver of history immortalized by the Don McLean song “American Pie.”

The private plane crash that killed iconic rock-and-roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P “The Big Bopper” Richardson robbed the music world of three immense talents, as well as pilot Roger Peterson, on Feb. 3, 1959. At the time, the Civil Aeronautics Board ruled the probable cause was pilot error, with cold, snowy weather playing a secondary role in the crash.

Now the National Transportation Safety Board is considering whether to re-open the investigation of the tragedy in Iowa more than a half-century ago. The NTSB, established in 1967 – eight years after the crash and four before McLean released his hit song – is the successor to the CAB.

The Globe Gazette reports that L.J. Coon, himself a pilot, has petitioned the NTSB to revisit the crash, saying factors such as weight and balance, the rate of climb and descent, and a rudder pedal that might have been inexplicably removed might also have played a part in the accident.

He received a letter from the NTSB's Office of the Managing Director last month stating "You have gotten our attention. Let us do our due diligence in order to give you a proper answer."

According to the paper it can take up to two months to receive an answer, and anywhere from six months to a year for a decision to be rendered by the NTSB on whether to re-open the investigation.

The single-engine plane carrying the rock stars left immediately after a show from the Mason City Municipal Airport before crashing into a field just five miles after takeoff.

The deaths of Holly, Valens and Richardson have been immortalized in movie and song, most notably McLean’s record in 1971 and star turns by Gary Busey in the 1978 film "The Buddy Holly Story" and by Lou Diamond-Phillips in "La Bamba" in 1987.



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