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1950s / Buddy Holly Plane Crash
This is a photo montage of the plane wreck that killed singers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (a.k.a. The Big Bopper) early on February 3, 1959. Pilot Roger Peterson also was killed. The three musicians had performed at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA the night before and were headed to Fargo, ND, the closest airport to their next stop on their tour--Moorhead, MN. They decided to leave ahead of the rest of their group because of their dislike of the cold touring bus and to get their laundry done. The ages of the deceased foursome make this tragedy truly sad: Holly was 22, Richardson was 28, Valens was 17, Peterson was 21. Investigators attributed the crash to pilot error (specifically inexperience with the Bonanza aircraft's altitude gauge) combined with bad winter weather. The crash was neither seen nor heard by anyone on the ground. Investigators calculated it occurred about four minutes after takeoff from Mason City's small airport. The charter plane's owner became concerned when Peterson did not report his flight plan after takeoff which he said he would do. The wreckage of the plane was found in a farmer's corn field about nine hours after the crash. All three singers had been thrown from the plane while Peterson's body was trapped in the twisted metal. In a strange and morbid twist, nearly half a century later in 2007 Richardson's body was exhumed to satisfy the curiosity of his son (who hadn't been born at the time of the crash). He had heard wild rumors that his father may have actually survived the crash and had been shot to death! The well preserved corpse of Richardson--with its perfectly cropped flat-top hairstyle--showed that death was instaneous due to countless fractures consistent with an airplane crash victim. Richardson's son spent several minutes "visiting" his father whom he had never known.