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NTSB reconsiders Buddy Holly plane crash

The agency is considering reopening the case after receiving new information from a researcher.

By Ed Adamczyk
NTSB reconsiders Buddy Holly plane crash
Flowers and tributes are left at the site of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson near Clear Lake, Iowa on February 2, 2009. Singer Don McLean coined the phrase "the day the music died" in his hit song American Pie referring to the death of the three rock 'n' roll pioneers in the early morning hours of February 3, 1959. Thousands of people descended upon Clear Lake to celebrate the 50th anniversary of "the day the music died". (UPI Photo/Brian Kersey) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) -- The 1959 plane crashed which killed rock star Buddy Holly is receiving new attention from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The accident, outside Mason City, Iowa, was blamed by the Civil Aeronautics Board, the forerunner of the NTSB, on pilot error and weather, but new information on the incident was suggested by L.J. Coon, a pilot. In a letter, he proposed additional investigation of the plane's weight and balance, its rate of climb and descent and other factors.

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"You have gotten our attention," a return letter from the NTSB read in part.

The agency never closes a case, but has two months to review a petition to re-examine evidence in a plane accident, NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said.

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The Feb. 3, 1959 crash has achieved mythic status in American music history. Killed aboard the plane, with pilot Roger Peterson, were Holly, 22; Richard Valenzuela, better known as Richie Valens, 17, and J.P. Richardson, known as "The Big Bopper," 39. Each was beginning his career in rock and roll, at that time a new and emerging radio format.

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Waylon Jennings, then a member of Holly's band and later a country music legend, gave up his seat to Richardson, who was ill and unable to travel with the rest of the entourage by car to their next appearance in Moorhead, Minn., Jennings claimed his decision haunted him until his own death, in 2002. Dion DiMucci, of Dion and the Belmonts, chose to travel by car when he learned of the airline's $36 baggage fee.

The plane crash was referred to as "the day the music died," in Don Mclean's 1971 hit "American Pie."

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