The Feb. 3, 1959 plane crash that killed rock stars Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson may get another look from federal investigators following pleas from a New England man who believes that blame was focused too heavily on the pilot.
L.J. Coon petitioned the National Transportation Safety Board to review the crash, which was initially blamed on pilot error and snowy weather, according to a report in the Globe-Gazette, a newspaper published in north Iowa, where the plane went down.
Coon, a pilot, argued that the agency ought to take a look at other factors, including weight and balance calculations, the plane's rate of climb and descent, fuel gauge readings and questions regarding a passenger-side rudder pedal, the newspaper reported. The NTSB responded in a Feb. 19 letter saying it would look into his claims.
Coon told the paper he believes the NTSB will find that the pilot acted heroically in the four minutes between takeoff from Mason City Municipal Airport and the crash in a Clear Lake, Iowa farm field. But Buddy Holly biographer Gary W. Moore told the paper that investigators got it right the first time.
— Miguel Almaguer and Jon Schuppe