Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Vintage Video: News Reports and Photos From the Plane Crash That Killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens & the Big Bopper

It was 57 years ago early this morning, February 3, 1959, that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper and pilot Roger Peterson were killed in the crash of a 1947 single-engine Beechcraft 35 Bonanza plane.

Peterson, 21-years-old, had been hired to fly the three stars from their show in Clear Lake, Iowa to Fargo, ND where they had another show to play in nearby Moorhead. Waylon Jennings, then a bassist for Holly, was scheduled to be on the flight instead of the Big Bopper but the singer/DJ was sick with the flu and asked Waylon for his seat to avoid a long, cold ride on the tour bus. Ritchie Valens was also not supposed to be on the flight but won the seat in a coin toss with Tommy Allsup.

The plane took off in a light snow at 12:55 AM on the morning of February 3 and the owner of the flight company observed a normal ascent with the plane taking a left turn to go north and disappearing from site. He was unable to make normal contact with the plane and, the next morning, took a flight to retrace its path, seeing the wreckage about six miles from the airport.

The investigation by the Civil Aeronautics Board found that pilot Peterson was not yet certified to fly strictly by instruments and that the weather conditions on the night of the crash were beyond his capabilities. They listed the cause of the accident as "the pilot's unwise decision to embark on the flight".

Here are a couple of short videos on the crash: