NTSB turns down plane crash review

The “Day the Music Died” will not be further investigated.

The National Transportation Safety Board has declined a request to reopen the investigation of the plane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson north of Clear Lake in February 1959.  At that time, the Civil Aeronautics Board ruled that the most likely cause of the crash was pilot error.  Snow was listed as a secondary cause.

New England pilot L.J. Coon petitioned the NTSB to reconsider the findings of the original investigation. He contended there were other issues involving weight and balance calculations, fuel-gauge readings and more that contributed to the crash. 

In a letter dated April 21, the agency said the evidence presented in the request from Coon wasn’t sufficient to merit the reconsideration of the findings of the original investigation. 

“While your letters imply facts by stating, they do not contain the evidence needed to substantiate the information you present as factual,” states a letter signed by John DeLisi, director of the Office of Aviation Safety.

 Coon sent letters on Jan. 15, 2015, and Feb. 10, 2015, questioning the conclusions of the 1959 crash investigation.

The NTSB’s Office of the Managing Director said an initial response to Coon’s petition would take two months.

DeLisi’s letter addresses several of Coon’s assertions about the plane and pilot.

“Your letters contend that the weight and balance calculations were performed with the originally planned passengers. However, you do not provide new factual evidence to support your concern and therefore, have not met the basis for a reconsideration of the accident flight’s weight and balance,” the letter states.  “Regarding your contentions about the accident pilot’s flight experience, we note that the CAB report states that the pilot had 128 hours in Bonanza aircraft and 52 hours of dual instrument training; several different aircraft were used for the dual training.”

Coon said he is countering the NTSB’s review.  Based on a statement from the NTSB saying it reviewed letters from Jan. 15, 2015 and Feb. 10, 2015, he wonders if his 24 page petition was reviewed.

“I am concerned and have reached out to The NTSB to verify that my 24 page - NTSB Petition submitted on Feb. 19, 2015 was in fact the document that was reviewed/considered,” he said.  “The NTSB’s trusted, professional, thorough, complete, investigation into this historic ‘cold case’ would be welcomed for past and future generations.  This accident has truly gone unsolved for 56 years.”

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