Re­mem­ber­ing Buddy Holly 57 years af­ter tragic crash

Serve Daily - - EMPOWERING LIBERTY - By Ed Helmick

Feb. 3 was the 57-year an­niver­sary of the death of rock ‘n’ roll star Buddy Holly. Do you re­mem­ber Buddy Holly? I do, and my par­ents didn’t like the rock ‘n’ roll mu­sic of the era. I heard him and his band, the Crick­ets, on the ra­dio. My par­ents al­ways watched the Ed Sul­li­van TV show, and I re­mem­ber see­ing Buddy Holly fea­tured on the Dec. 1, 1957, show. I was 15 when I heard on the ra­dio the an­nounce­ment about his death in an air­plane crash along with the pilot and two other ris­ing mu­sic stars.

Years later I be­came a pilot and re­searched the ac­ci­dent. Like all ac­ci­dents, it should have never oc­curred and FAA reg­u­la­tions have since been writ­ten to pre­vent such an ac­ci­dent. The mu­sic group had a bus prob­lem in Clear Lake, Iowa, and an air­plane was char­tered for three of the mu­si­cians, in­clud­ing Buddy Holly, for a flight to Fargo, N.D. The Beechcraft Bonanza crashed five miles from the de­par­ture air­port; the pilot and three pas­sen­gers died. Buddy Holly was 22 years old. The flight de­parted at 1 a.m. with ceil­ing and vis­i­bil­ity low­er­ing due to snow that had be­gun to fall. It was not a good night to fly.

In 1959, it was not a re­quire­ment to have an in­stru­ment rat­ing to be a com­mer­cial pilot. In fact, the pilot had failed an in­stru­ment check­ride two months prior to the ac­ci­dent. At night, with an over­cast sky, fall­ing snow and no def­i­nite hori­zon, this flight would re­quire skilled ref­er­ence to the flight in­stru­ments to main­tain con­trol of the air­plane. There was also a se­ri­ous de­fi­ciency in the weather brief­ing for this par­tic­u­lar flight; how­ever, it ap­pears there was suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion to make a no-go de­ci­sion. The pilot made an un­wise de­ci­sion to em­bark on a flight he was not qual­i­fied to con­duct.

This ac­ci­dent be­came a clas­sic case of spa­tial dis­ori­en­ta­tion and loss of con­trol of the air­plane. By day­light, the weather was clear­ing as is of­ten the case with weather-re­lated ac­ci­dents.

The Feb. 3, 1959, air­plane crash that took the lives of rock ‘n’ roll mu­si­cians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bop­per” Richard­son has be­come known as “The Day the Mu­sic Died.” Ac­cord­ing to a Time Mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle, Buddy Holly’s in­flu­ence on early rock ’n’ roll is al­most un­matched. He pop­u­lar­ized the two gui­tars, one bass, one drum lineup that so many af­ter him fol­lowed. Many of us will re­mem­ber his mu­sic for­ever.

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