The Day the Music Died

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by FLYBOYJ, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,204
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    I know it's been a few days since many recognized the 50th anniversary of the Deaths of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens. AOPA came out with this article that I thought summed up the accident. Good reading for all pilots....

    The Buddy Holly crash—50 years later
    By Bruce Landsberg

    A A A Bruce Landsberg is executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.

    Some accidents are burned into memory even decades after they happened. The sinking of the Titanic, the explosion of the Hindenburg, the accident at Tenerife, and the Challenger crash all bring back remembrances of unforgettable tragedies. “The day the music died,” wrote singer/songwriter Don McLean for his hit song, American Pie, in 1971 commemorated the loss of singer Buddy Holly in an aircraft accident. Charles Hardin Holley, better known as Buddy Holly, was and remains one of the giants in the music business. His may be the most-discussed pop music star aircraft accident in history. The impact on the music world and millions of fans still affects the public perception of general aviation two generations of pilots later. His life and death inspired numerous books, movies, and songs.

    To say Holly was a star is an understatement. He has been described as, the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll. His style has influenced countless musicians, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. He exerted such a profound impact on popular music that Rolling Stone magazine ranked Holly number 13 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.

    He was only 22 at the time of his death, and yet his songwriting was so prolific that new albums and singles were released years after his passing. The story of his accident and others like it has been written many times—the outcomes don’t change.

    In the early morning of February 3, 1959, Holly and two other rising stars, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (the Big Bopper), who were touring the country, had just finished a gig in Clear Lake, Iowa. They were scheduled to appear in Moorhead, Minnesota, that night but, because of bus trouble, the show headliners decided to go on to Moorhead by air. The group chartered a Beech Bonanza at the Mason City, Iowa, airport to fly to Fargo, the nearest airport to Moorhead.

    The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), predecessor to the FAA and the NTSB, investigated the accident and the factual information is derived from the report.

    Weather and preflight—Think It Over
    Around 5:30 p.m. Central Standard Time the charter pilot went to the Air Traffic Communications Station (ATCS—the equivalent of today’s Flight Service Station and Air Route Traffic Control Center) at the airport administration building, to brief the flight. He was provided current weather for Mason City, Minneapolis; Redwood Falls; Alexandria, Minnesota; and the terminal forecast for Fargo, North Dakota. The briefer advised that all stations reported ceilings of 5,000 feet or better and visibility of 10 miles or above. However, the Fargo terminal forecast indicated the possibility of light snow showers after 2 a.m. and a cold frontal passage about 4 a.m. It all seemed reasonable for a VFR flight.

    At 10 p.m. and again at 11:30 p.m. the pilot called ATCS to update weather. All stations had ceilings of 4,200 feet or better with visibility still 10 miles or greater. It was snowing in Minneapolis and the cold front that was previously forecast to pass Fargo at 4 a.m. was now expected to arrive at 2 a.m. At Mason City the ceiling was 6,000 overcast; visibility 15 miles plus; temperature 15 degrees F; dew point 8 degrees; wind south 25 to 32 knots; altimeter setting 29.96 inches.

    At 11:55 p.m., the pilot, accompanied by the FBO/charter aircraft owner, a commercial/instrument-rated pilot, again went to ATCS for the latest weather update. With such important passengers on board one couldn’t be too careful. In the half-hour since the pilot had last checked, Mason City was now 5,000 overcast in light snow and the altimeter had dropped to 29.90. The weather was moving.

    The flight—Peggy Sue
    Holly, Richardson, and Valens arrived at the airport about 12:40 a.m., after the show, stowed their baggage, and boarded the aircraft. Although not noted in the CAB’s report, I speculate the weight and/or balance might have been outside the limits with any kind of fuel load. That would have made the V35 a handful in the turbulence the flight would later encounter.

    The pilot stated he would file his VFR flight plan by radio when airborne. Taxiing to the end of Runway 17, the pilot called ATCS for a weather update. En route reports had not changed materially, but Mason City was coming down rapidly: The ceiling was now 3,000, sky obscured; visibility 6 miles, light snow; wind south 20 knots, gusts to 30 knots; altimeter setting 29.85 inches. The front had arrived.

    The Bonanza was airborne at 12:55 a.m. and observed to make a left 180-degree turn and climb to approximately 800 feet. It passed east of the airport and turned northwesterly. Throughout most of the flight the aircraft’s tail light was visible to the FBO/charter aircraft owner. About five miles from the airport the light gradually descended and disappeared. When the pilot failed to open his flight plan by radio soon after takeoff, the communicator (controller), at the owner’s request, repeatedly tried to reach him but was unsuccessful. It was approximately 1 a.m.

    The accident—It Doesn’t Matter Anymore
    After reporting that the aircraft was missing at 3:30 a.m., the FBO/charter aircraft owner flew the aircraft’s planned route later that morning. He sighted the aircraft in an open field at 9:35 a.m. All four occupants had been killed, and the aircraft was demolished. The wreckage was covered with about four inches of snow. It’s a given, even today, that accident investigations are usually done in decent weather, half a day later. Note to self—be a little patient with weather, it will get better. Had the group left at 10 that morning, they still would have arrived in plenty of time for the show.

    The Bonanza struck the ground in a steep right bank, nose-low attitude at high speed. There was no fire and no evidence of structural or flight control failure. The landing gear was retracted and the engine was producing cruise power at the time of impact. The attitude indicator showed a 90-degree right bank, nose-down attitude. The vertical speed indicator was pegged at a 3,000-feet-per-minute descent.

    Pilot—Maybe, Baby
    The pilot, 21 years old, was employed by the FBO as a commercial pilot and flight instructor, and had been with them about a year. He had started flying in October 1954, with 711 hours total time and 128 in Bonanza. He had approximately 52 hours of dual instrument training and had passed the instrument written examination, but he had failed an instrument flight check in March 1958, nine months prior to the accident. His instrument training had been in several aircraft, all equipped with a conventional artificial horizon, but he had no experience with the Sperry attitude gyro that was installed in Bonanza N3794N. These two instruments differ greatly in their pictorial display, and the CAB believed that he would have had difficulty interpreting a completely different display.

    The aircraft—Rave On
    The Beech Bonanza, model 35, was manufactured in October 1947 and the engine had only 40 hours since major overhaul. The aircraft was purchased by the FBO in July 1958, and was well equipped for its time with high- and low-frequency radios, a Narco “omnigator” (VOR), a Lear autopilot (recently installed but not operable), and a full panel of instruments used for instrument flying, including a Sperry F3 attitude gyro.
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,204
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Part 2

    According to the CAB’s report, “The conventional artificial horizon provides a direct reading indication of the bank and pitch attitude of the aircraft which is accurately indicated by a miniature aircraft pictorially displayed against a horizon bar and as if observed from the rear. The Sperry F3 gyro also provides a direct reading indication of the bank and pitch attitude of the aircraft, but its pictorial presentation is achieved by using a stabilized sphere whose free-floating movements behind a miniature aircraft presents pitch information with a sensing exactly opposite from that depicted by the conventional artificial horizon.”

    The weather, again—Take Your Time
    The weather was quite a bit nastier than the briefed surface reports indicated. The surface weather chart for midnight February 3, 1959, showed a cold front extending from northwestern Minnesota through central Nebraska with a secondary cold front through North Dakota. Widespread snow shower activity was indicated in advance of these fronts. Temperatures aloft from Mason City to Fargo were below freezing at all levels with an inversion between 3,000 and 4,000 feet and abundant moisture present at all levels through 12,000 feet. Moderate to heavy icing and precipitation existed in the clouds along the route. Winds aloft below 10,000 feet were reported to be southwest at 30 to 50 knots.

    A flash advisory (roughly equivalent to a sigmet) issued by the Weather Bureau at Minneapolis at 11:35 p.m. on February 2, noted, “Flash Advisory No. 5: A band of snow about 100 miles wide at 2335 from extreme northwestern Minnesota, northern North Dakota through Bismarck and south-southwestward through Black Hills of South Dakota with visibility generally below two miles in snow. This area or band moving southeastward about 25 knots. Cold front at 2335 from vicinity Winnipeg through Minot, Williston, moving southeastward 25 to 30 knots with surface winds following front north-northwest with 25 to gusts of 45. Valid until 0335.”

    Another flash advisory issued out of Kansas City, Missouri, at 12:15 a.m. on February 3 noted: “Over eastern half of Kansas, ceilings are locally below one thousand feet, visibilities locally two miles or less in freezing drizzle, light snow, and fog. Moderate to locally heavy icing, areas of freezing drizzle and locally moderate icing in clouds below 10,000 feet over eastern portion Nebraska, Kansas, northwest Missouri and most of Iowa. Valid until 0515.”

    Neither ATCS briefer mentioned these flash advisories to the pilot indicating the virtual certainty that instrument weather would be encountered.

    Analysis—Raining in My Heart
    The CAB report noted that the flash advisories were not conveyed to the pilot. The weather briefing consisted solely of reading current weather at en route terminal and terminal forecasts for the destination. Failure to “draw these advisories to the attention of the pilot and to emphasize their importance could readily lead the pilot to underestimate the severity of the weather situation.”

    The FBO owner said, he “had confidence in the pilot and relied entirely on his operational judgment with respect to the planning and conduct of the flight.” That confidence was sadly misplaced. It happens too often that enthusiasm and a strong desire to complete a flight overcome what little experience/judgment a new pilot has. Sincerity, enthusiasm, and desire to please should never take a back seat to suspicious, skeptical contingency planning.

    The CAB noted that with the obviously deteriorating weather at Mason City which could be seen by all, and the fact that the charter company was “certificated to fly in visual flight rules only…together with the pilot’s unproved ability to fly by instruments, made the decision to go…most imprudent.” That the pilot checked the weather so many times and that the owner went with him and then watched the flight depart shows that both of them probably had some serious misgivings. Note to self: Listen to that inner voice—it’s usually right!

    The CAB’s assessment was that shortly after takeoff the flight entered complete darkness with no horizon, falling snow, and moderate turbulence from the high winds. This required flight by reference to instruments.

    The pilot’s unfamiliarity with the Sperry F3 gyro, noted above, because of its unique presentation, likely caused spatial disorientation.

    Probable cause—Not Fade Away
    “The board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot’s unwise decision to embark on a flight which would necessitate flying solely by instruments when he was not properly certificated or qualified to do so. Contributing factors were serious deficiencies in the weather briefing, and the pilot’s unfamiliarity with the instrument which determines the attitude of the aircraft.”

    This report could have been written last month, but it was a half-century ago. If the weather is bad where you are, despite a decent forecast, the weather is bad. Period. The board’s commentary: “This accident, like so many before it, was caused by the pilot’s decision to undertake a flight in which the likelihood of encountering instrument conditions existed, in the mistaken belief that he could cope with en route instrument weather conditions, without having the necessary familiarization with the instruments in the aircraft and without being properly certificated to fly solely by instruments.”

    We may be the only beings who can learn from past mistakes and so often fail to do so. The lesson should not fade away.
     
  3. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    36,729
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Nightshift picker
    Location:
    A Swede living in Glasgow, Scotland
    Home Page:
    It's sad days for me....and it'll 50 years next year for Eddie Cochran and his fatal car crash..
     
  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,204
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Yep!

    Like you I was always really into that era, the cars, the music, etc. I could remember as a kid seeing teenagers singing "doo-wop" on local street corners. There were even a few famous 50s bands that came out of my area.
     
  5. Trebor

    Trebor Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2008
    Messages:
    2,418
    Likes Received:
    39
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    KCLS
    good god, how could I have forgotten? RIP, all you musical men....
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,204
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    What is so sad is had they decided not to go, they could of gotten out the next morning, flew in VFR all the way to their next stop and would of had plenty of time to make their next gig.
     
  7. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2007
    Messages:
    2,727
    Likes Received:
    170
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Have you read "Beyond the Body Farm?" Ther's a chapter devoted to the exhumation of the Bopper. The family were in the process of relocating his crypt and sought the services of Bass to examine the body for any evidence of a gunshot wound. (Theory for the crash)...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,204
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    I saw a show about this last year.

    Apparently Buddy Holly carried a gun and it was found at the crash site. One of the law enforcement officers who was at the crash site found the pistol and very unprofessionally fired it into the ground. It was left at the scene only to be found a number of years later bringing on all kinds of rumors and conspiracy theories.
     
  9. Bill G.

    Bill G. Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2009
    Messages:
    454
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Retired Guard
    Location:
    Plainwell, MI
    It just reinforces the old Air Force Pilots Adage (applies to all that command flying things). There are old pilots. There are bold pilots. There are NO old, bold pilots!

    At my model railroad club we have a Bonanza that is crashed on it's right side near the top of a hill. The "N" number is that of this ill fated plane. People do remember and care 50 years later.

    And thanks for sharing this accident report. It was very interesting.

    Bill G.
     
  10. Corsair82pilot

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2009
    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Occupation:
    Airline pilot
    Location:
    USA
    Home Page:
    Musicians and air travel just don't work well together. If I ever have a famous musician or band boarding my plane, I think I'll ask them to find another way to their destination. (i.e., Get the hell off my aircraft!)
    Should we start a trivia list?
    :(
    (no particular order)
    Buddy Holly
    Big Bopper
    Richey Valens
    Ricky Nelson
    Stevie Ray Vaughn
    Glenn Miller
    Lynyrd Skynyrd

    Any more?
     
  11. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,204
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Jim Croce
    Patsy Cline
    Aaliyah
    John Denver
    Otis Redding
     
  12. dreif13

    dreif13 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2009
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    I just love Buddy Holly!!!!!
     
  13. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    Theres a hellava band playing in Heaven.

    I didn't know much about Holly or Valens music but when I was a kid I could recite the lyrics of most of the Big Bopper's hits...

    "It was a one-eyed, one-eared flying purple people eater!!"

    RIP
     
  14. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    36,729
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Nightshift picker
    Location:
    A Swede living in Glasgow, Scotland
    Home Page:
    Another of my heroes, Johnny Burnette, he drowned if I remember correctly and Del Shannon hung himself I think.... :(

    Think "American Graffiti"....

    Runaway

    As I walk along,
    I wonder what went wrong,
    With our love, a love that was so strong.
    And as I still walk on,
    I think of the things we've done
    Together, a-while our hearts were young.

    I'm a-walkin' in the rain,
    Tears are fallin' and I feel the pain,
    Wishin' you were here by me,
    To end this misery
    And I wonder--
    I wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder,
    Why,
    Why, why, why, why, why she ran away,
    Yes, and I wonder,
    A-where she will stay-ay,
    My little runaway,
    Run, run, run, run, runaway.

    I'm a-walkin' in the rain,
    Tears are fallin' and I feel the pain,
    Wishin' you were here by me,
    To end this misery
    And I wonder--
    I wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder,
    Why,
    Why, why, why, why, why she ran away,
    Yes, and I wonder,
    A-where she will stay-ay,
    My little runaway,
    Run, run, run, run, runaway.
    Run, run, run, run, runaway.
    Run, run, run, run, runaway.


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TLLcvWeiKw


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RZPvMagOIU


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRjlZ8x2uQM


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm2Mdma2dXw


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEhe76sPPgE
     
  15. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,204
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    He actually shot himself.

    I worked with a guy was was good friends with him. He said that Del was taking Prozac and other medications at the time of his death.

    The first 45 I ever owned was "Runaway."
     
  16. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    Messages:
    4,182
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Retired from Verizon Communications - Now Working for Point Lobster Company, Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ
    Location:
    Jersey Shore, USA
    Njaco, That's "one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater" :)

    TO
     
  17. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    I'm a freakin' idiot! :(
     
  18. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    36,729
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Nightshift picker
    Location:
    A Swede living in Glasgow, Scotland
    Home Page:
    Either way Joe, it was a d*mn shame! I often wonder if and how much different music would be today, had they all still been around....
    I doubt that many of todays stardomseekers and wannabees will be talked about 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years from now, with as much passion, admiration etc....I seriously doubt it! How many of todays "hits" are made on a musical instrument, by some who can play an instrument OR read musical notes?:rolleyes: :lol:
     
  19. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,204
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Agree 100%
     
Loading...

Share This Page