Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hey, Buddy ...

re:  The Surf Ballroom Winter Dance Party:  
Our buddies The Cadillac Casanovas are off to Clearlake, Iowa, for the annual Surf Ballroom Winter Dance Party ... they'll be appearing this Friday Night (January 30th) ... full details below ...   

Winter Dance Party - Sock Hop & backing the LA Party Dolls
Surf Ballroom & Museum
Friday, January 30th
Sock Hop: 7:00 - 8:15 pm
LA Party Dolls: 8:30 - 9:45 pm                                   
460 North Shore Drive,
Clear Lake, Iowa 
We're headed to Clear Lake, Iowa,to be a part of the biggest Winter Dance Party around! It's a four-day show full of memorabilia, dance lessons, musical performances, kids shows, special luncheons, and even wedding / vow renewal ceremonies! On Friday night, we'll be performing for the Sock Hop, which will include Dance & Costume Contests. Grab those poodle skirts and saddle shoes! After our performance, stick around ... we will be backing the LA Party Dolls for even more dancing fun. Big Sandy and his Fli-Rite Boys are also going to be there, too ... sure to be a fantastic night of music and dancing! Also, experience VIP treatment and walk the Red Carpet upon entry to the Surf on Friday night. 
For tickets and information, click HERE. 
www.blackbeehive.com (LA Party Dolls website)
www.bigsandy.net (Big Sandy's website)   

Also on hand ... Chris Montez!!!  (Here's a look at HIS upcoming itinerary) ...   

Hello, Kent! 
A while back I told you that  would send info on Chris’ concerts.  
He will be at The Surf Ballroom Clear Lake Iowa next weekend for the Winter Dance Party
Thursday, January 29th - Saturday, January 31st, 2015
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. nightly 
Scheduled to appear: Frankie Avalon, Lou Christie, Bill Haley Jr. & The Comets, The Crystals, Brian Hyland, Chris Montez, Tommy Allsup, Whitesidewalls, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, L.A. Party Dolls, the Cadillac Casanovas, John Mueller’s Winter Dance Party
Chris will then be in a festival in Spain February 5, 6, 7, and 8 - Torremolinos, SPAIN
He also has a show coming up in Belgium but I don't have any details for that one yet.
Chris Montez will be part of a February, 2016, cruise concert series with some other great artists ... and he is working on some other plans which will be announced in the next few weeks.
Thank you -
Pam Dixon
Media Coordinator

On a related note  (well, sort of) ... 

I had the opportunity to attend the "Winter Dance Party" show at the Willowbrook Ballroom on Saturday night.
It's a tribute show featuring Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and Big Bopper imitators (not sure if that is the right term).
This show has been touring for 15 years and the performers are amazing. Until he died two years ago, the Big Bopper's son portrayed his father.
Have you ever heard about this revue or seen it?
Unbelievable show. Incredible four-piece band that worked their asses off, including one of the best saxophonists I've ever seen.
All three performers were top-notch. I can't say how truly good they were.
That said, the Willowbrook Ballroom is a dinosaur from a couple generations ago and is a dump, to be kind.
The crowd was something to be seen. 50's music fans are quite different form 60's fans.
Damn, these people were ancient! For the most part, they were dressed like people I've never seen before, but
their enthusiasm was tremendous. It looked like a sock hop at an assisted living facility!  
Thank you -
Steve Sarley
LOL ... sounds like a fun time!  Will have to watch for that next year!  (kk)

And, finally, we've heard from LJ Coon, who's looking into the plane crash that occurred that fateful night the music died ... here are some of his questions pertaining to this on-going investigation.  (If you hare interested in contacting LJ with pertinent information regarding this tragedy, I have included his email information below.) 

Dear Kent: 
My immediate interest are ... 
Touching base with Jerry Dwyer, the man that was there ... he has stated that he loaded the aircraft (N3794N) on February 3, 1959 ... 
This was a 90 minute flight To Fargo, ND ... how much fuel was loaded on board? 
Who fueled the aircraft that day or evening? 
How much fuel was determined to be needed? 
How much fuel was on board? 
Who made this decision? 
Why were the Fuel Gages not mentioned in the original CAB report? 
Why was there no mention of ANY fuel in the wing tanks? 
No mention of Fuel Smell? 
No mention of Fuel Caps secured? 
No mention of any Danger from Spilled Fuel at the impact area? 
No mention of Fuel danger (even as the wing laid their next to the fuselage)? 
Who did the weight and balance? 
When the customer called from the Surf Ballroom...was it determined at that time how many passengers would be involved? Who was responsible for asking or receiving this information? Someone had to have asked this information (for the weight and balance) 
Was the weight and balance determined from the initial call / conversation? A drastic change took place with the new weight that was involved when the original passengers list changed to two new passengers, which would have added several hundred pounds MORE than originally planned.   (Richie Valens was a 200 pound Male and The Big Bopper was a 250 pound Male ... they were both seated in the rear of N3794N.  Roger's weight was 165 pounds and Holly's weight was easily another 165 pounds.  To this figure, you add in the amount of fuel weight ... then add in the luggage weight.  This places N3794N really close to it's Gross Weight, if not exceeding it! 
Was the original weight and balance calculated with the original intended passengers weight for this flight?  (The last minute change to include Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper would have added several hundred additional pounds) 
Were the passenger side rudder pedals removed ... as to not invite any possible accidents or accidentally over controlling of the Aircraft from the passenger side (which was Buddy Holly's side)? 
With the passenger side rudder pedals in place, an accidental sharp push on the right rudder pedal may have occurred if the passenger turned to converse with those in the rear of the plane.  
What about the inherent problems that Beechcraft was suffering with the 1947 Bonanza 35 V-Tail? 
N3794N was a 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza-35 with a HISTORY of inflight problems.  I know that the NTSB mentioned that there was no inflight structural damage ... BUT ... is this a cover-up so-to-speak ... that included yet another V-Tail incident, along with a weight and balance problem, inviting a decision to off load as much fuel as possible??? When was the Sperry Horizon Instrument installed?  (Was it the night of the flight ... or did the pilot have adequate time days before and flights before to become familiar with this instrument?  
Pilot Roger Peterson was at the very airport he had flown in and out of "so many times".  Roger would have flown out and about this airport at night under multiple different conditions.  In other words, he had to be very familiar with ALL directions of this airport inbound and outbound.  
Roger had 128 hours in N3794N ... and 58 of those hours were with Dual IFR. 
(There could have been a 3,000 foot brick wall out in the Northwest just beyond the crash site ... the fact remains that Jerry Dwyer saw the lights of his aircraft slowly descend out of sight, just a few miles from the airport.) Roger would flown that area MANY times at night and in IFR training as well.  Losing reference to the horizon five miles from the airport? ... Well, that seems to be completely out of character and inconsistent with this experience flying out of this airport! 
As far as the weather, ANYONE could have driven out 5, 10, 15 miles and asked, "Did you just have a snow shower?"   Were there any snow showers reported within 5 to 10 miles at 1:00 a.m.?  2, 3, or 4 a.m.?  WELL!  
The NTSB Subpart C—Board Reports §845.41 Petitions for reconsideration or modification contains particular goals the applicant has to meet, for the NTSB to consider re-opening this "Cold Case".  (I have written to the NTSB and asked for their Cold Case Investigative Unit to open a new and thorough investigation into this accident.)  I have been encouraged by the NTSB to file form Subpart C—Board Reports §845.41 Petitions for reconsideration or modification.  
The aircraft had at least 90 minutes of fuel on board and there was no fire.  
The CAB were descriptive as to the condition of many instruments, but there was no mention of the fuel gage, the amount of fuel in the engine, fuel in the tanks or fuel on the ground.  
I've heard it mentioned that Iowans believe there was some kind of commotion on board the aircraft N3794N ... I would invite the theory that Buddy Holly, sitting in the right front seat had Twisted around to his Left for some reason to face the back area / back of the plane passengers.  In doing so (and not realizing), his right foot would have stepped heavily on the Right Rudder Pedal sending N3794N Sharply To The Right, thus setting up a struggle to correct an already heavy work load Pilot Peterson was already dealing with. Finally, do you know if Jerry Dwyer has ever written his book?  
Kindest Regards -  
L J  
L J Coon  

Yowzah, LJ ... that's a lot to digest ... but clearly you've given this a CONSIDERABLE amount of thought.  I know we have a number of Buddy Holly fans who have poured over a serious amount of facts and theories over the years regarding this unfortunate and fatal incident ... perhaps somebody out there can fill in a blank or two for you in this regard.  (Meanwhile, a few of YOUR questions might spark them to ask a few more of their own!)  We'll get back to you should we hear anything ... you please do the same!!! (kk)

Originally, we were going to run this piece on February 3rd, the anniversary of "the day the music died" ... but then we received THIS piece of news from LJ, telling us that the story was breaking thanks to some new media coverage by The Pilot Tribune ...

So we moved our story up a week in the hopes of drawing some more attention to this new investigation. 

I know that over the years there have been HUNDREDS of theories and investigations into the events of that fateful, tragic night ... a select few have revealed some new facts we weren't aware of the past 50+ years ... but most have proven to be nothing more than theories and speculations by people who simply weren't there, in some cases trying to rewrite history as we know it.  I don't know that we'll ever REALLY get the complete story as to what went wrong that night ... and LJ's approach simply adds more questions (but no answers) to the puzzle.  However, since he does seem to be getting some mileage out of this ... and is prompting authorities for more investigation into this "cold case" ... and we were are right upon the 56th anniversary of the fatal crash ... we figured we'd throw all of this out there and let YOU guys decide what is and isn't pertinent information.   

UPDATE:  This just in ...  

Apparently LJ has taken his questions and theories to the news media, trying to hunt down some answers.  Here is one such report we received last week ...    

The NTSB Reexamination of The Mason City accident of February 3, 1959    
Dear News Professionals:     
Please take the time out of your very busy day to review the following, and consider offering your readers this information and invite them to support The NTSB Reexamination of The Mason City accident of February-3-1959.  
I have a simulated weight and balance for N3794N February 3, 1959, 1947 Bonanza 35 V-Tail, I would like to send you in addition to the following:
The simulation outlines the conditions that the aircraft N3794N may have been flown under, including the fact that the original engine was swapped out in 1952, ( The new/reconditioned engine added an additional 22 pounds to this aircraft )
This and the total weight and balance picture...placed this aircraft 100 to 150 pounds Outside the CG.  
Kindest Regards, 
L J 
L J Coon  

Could this new investigation clear Buddy Holly pilot?
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Roger Peterson

A flight expert is appealing to the National Transportation Safety Board for a new investigation into the Iowa crash that killed rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly - an investigation that could clear the name of the 21-year-old pilot from Alta who flew the Beechcraft Bonanza on February 3, 1959, dubbed "The Day the Music Died."
New England resident L J Coon, pilot, aircraft dispatcher, FAA test proctor, worked with the Transportation Security Administration and with the FAA.
After finding online stories the Pilot-Tribune had done on the pilot and the case, Coon contacted the Pilot Tribune and said he sees key information missing in the original investigation.
Coon said he has been in contact with the National Transportation Safety Board's cold case unit about the possibility of a new investigation into the crash, and has been encouraged to file a petition for reconsideration / modification of the 1959 findings.
Coon's research implies a couple of possible explanations for the crash that were not considered at the time.
One is that the Peterson's plane hadn't been fueled.
There was no fire at the crash site, and no mention of fuel on the ground, he says, although the plane should have carried 234 pounds of fuel, enough for the 90 minutes in the air and more. While other gauges were mentioned in the report, information on the fuel gauges was conspicuously missing, along with any mention of whether there was fuel in the wing tanks, in the engine, or whether fuel caps were secure. None of the stories from the time mention any smell of fuel at the scene.
Coon wants to know who, if anyone, had fueled the plane for the flight, and why there was no mention of fuel at the crash site.
Another possible scenario is the weight and balance of the small plane, which if loaded with three passengers, luggage and a full complement of fuel must have been near, or over, its allowable weight limit, he claims.
The plane was chartered by the Surf Ballroom after Holly became frustrated with winter bus travel, to go from his last gig in Clear Lake to Fargo, North Dakota, where he would be picked up for his next gig not far away in Minnesota.
Band member Waylon Jennings planned to accompany Holly, but gave up his seat to an ailing J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson. With one seat left, a coin toss gave it to 17-year-old opening act performer Ritchie Valens. Both singers died with Holly and the pilot when the plane went down in a field about five miles from the Mason City airport where it had taken off.
Coon wants to know who calculated the weight and balance for the trip, and whether they knew at the time of the call from the Surf how many passenger would be on board.
With Holly and the pilot each barely over 165 pounds up front, and Richardson and Valens totaling perhaps over 420 in the rear plus their belongings and fuel, the balance could have been compromised, he feels.
He also wonders if, when the additional passenger weight became evident, if someone may have offloaded some fuel at the last moment to lighten the flight.
While the original crash report blamed pilot error as the primary cause, and weather conditions as a secondary cause, Coon thinks there is reason to question both conclusions.
The 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza fuselage had a history of in-flight issues, he said, and he questions whether newly-installed Sperry attitude gyro instrument had been properly tested, and whether the "V tail" that had been fitted to the plane worked properly.
Finally, Coon addresses rumors that there was some kind of "commotion" among the men on the plane shortly after takeoff. After a handgun reportedly belonging to Holly was found in the field months after the crash, there were also rumors that it may have gone off accidentally, disrupting the flight. One book on the subject claims that one witness who had seen the wreckage claimed there was a bullet hole through the back of the pilot's seat, and that the Mason City newspaper had reported that two chambers of the six-shooter pistol were empty when it was found, but no evidence of a shot occurring during the ill-fated flight has ever been produced.
Coon theorizes that if Holly, in the front passenger seat, had twisted to his left to face the rear passengers, his foot could have struck the right rudder pedal, sending the plane veering sideways and forcing pilot Peterson to struggle to correct the aircraft while already dealing with a heavy workload. The pedal was placed so close to the passenger's seat by the manufacturer that they were sometimes removed to avoid just such an accident, he indicates.
Some other reports theorize that Holly and Richardson had attempted to switch seats while the plane was in the air, based on the pattern of ejection of the victims, but that can never be proven or disproven.
Coon finds it difficult to believe that Peterson, with four years and over 700 hours of flight experience, would have failed moments into a routine flight, essentially flying a shallow dive into the ground while thinking he was climbing. "Roger would have flown out and about this airport at night, under multiple different conditions. He had to be very familiar with all directions of this airport in and out," and had 128 hours of experience in that particular aircraft, he said.
Weather conditions the night of the flight were not as dangerous as commonly believed, he feels. They were expected to deteriorate as Peterson neared Fargo, but witnesses and weather records indicate that there was no snow at the time and place of takeoff. A misconception may have arrived as snow moved in later overnight, lightly coating the crash scene.
According to Coon, the owner of the air service that Peterson worked for, Jerry Dwyer, always strongly disputed the findings of the 1959 investigation, noting that Peterson was expert with the plane and all other models the service used, and had flown across the country with no problems.
He quotes the owner as saying, "What got me is they said he was not familiar with this airplane, which is a crock. If you drove your car out to California and to new York and Florida a few times, you would probably be familiar with how the lights worked and a few other things."
Coon had hoped to speak to Dwyer before filing his case, but said he found that the now-elderly man was too ill to be interviewed.
In an earlier recorded interview, however, Dwyer had said that Peterson requested to make the flight, and wanted it "in the world's worst way." Dwyer insisted the cause was not weather, and said that visibility was eight miles at the time of the take-off, with a ceiling of around 3,000 feet - clear enough that he could see a taillight on the plane, which he said is the size of a person's little finger, from the airport more than four miles away, before it disappeared. Dwyer could not reach the plane by radio, and the next morning traced the flight plan route in another plane, discovering the wreckage.
Whatever he believes did cause the crash, Dwyer hasn't been saying, implying that the information would hurt a lot of people. He wanted to write a book himself and was saving his opinions for that.
Dwyer did reveal several years ago that the wreckage of the plane still exists. He said he saved it as evidence in fear of future lawsuits, but that after people damaged his building trying to break in looking for crash souvenirs, he moved it to an undisclosed location.
Coon would like to confirm whether the wreckage still exists as it had been found at the crash site, it could provide some answers in a new investigation. Modern technology would allow for a more complete study, and he hopes that whatever information the plane owner has been holding all these years could better determine what Peterson faced on a frozen night over rural Iowa.
Almost 56 years after the crash, the performers are as beloved as ever. With a career of only a year and a half, Holly is described by critic Bruce Eder as "the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll." His works and innovations were copied by the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and exerted a profound influence on popular music.
Still today, versions of the Winter Dance Party are performed in Iowa and elsewhere.
The pilot, who also lost his life, meanwhile, was all but forgotten for decades.
"He was a young man who built his life around flying," the Civil Aeronautics Board reflected in its official report following the crash. He had begun flying at age 16, had his license just after graduating high school, and by 21, had over 700 hours of flight experience, and a year as a charter flight pilot and flight instructor under his belt.
The eldest of four children, Peterson grew up in Alta and had married his high school sweetheart, Deanne Lenz, the September before. They had just established a home in Clear Lake, not far from the Mason City airport. The career he was passionate about seemed assured.
Peterson was found still in the cockpit of the ruined plane, with the bodies of the three singers strewn in the 500-foot long path of debris.
For the rest of their lives, Roger Arthur Peterson's parents, Arthur and Pearl, who continued to live in Alta, hoped that their son would be remembered in the same breath with the more famous personalities lost in the crash. They received letters of condolence from the families of Holly and Valens. While long lines of adoring fans attended Holly's memorial, a quiet Iowa funeral was held for the pilot, and a small marker in a Storm Lake cemetery denotes his grave site, etched with a tiny plane.
Some have remembered - an international group of Holly fans in the 1990s started to present a music scholarship to local students in the pilot's name, as they had in the home areas of the rock 'n' roll pioneers. A six-foot monument was erected at the Surf Ballroom in 1988 - remembering all four men lost. Peterson's parents and widow there met the survivors of all three of the lost performers, gathered for the first time. A memorial tree to Peterson was planted at the crash site. His role in the tragedy is also recalled in movies and biographies of each of the performers.
One online memorial site to Peterson has hundreds of comments from people all over the world, which are still coming in at a steady pace.
On what would have been his 71st birthday, one visitor wrote, "May you always be soaring above the clouds!"
"You are most likely the one person's name that day that no one remembers, but you did your best," another wrote.
"When people think of 'the day the music died', they forget that you were flying the plane. Know that you are truly remembered, and I hope that you are flying with the angels!" added another in 2008.
Coon isn't sure what a new NTSB investigation will accomplish.
"At this time I am not sure that any of the current findings and reported information over the years will clear pilot Roger Peterson. More so, overall inviting a larger picture of all the contributing factors to be examined."

Just prior to going to press this morning, LJ supplied some new facts turned up by his investigation and asked us to share them with our readers in the hopes that more people will come forward with ideas as to how to better dissect this case some 50 years on.  (New research ... shown in bold maroon type ... comes from Donna L. Cleaves)   

The following is a simulated weight and balance for N3794N February 3, 19591947 Bonanza 35 V-Tail.  The 1947 Bonanza 35 V tail was the only Bonanza that was not weighted front or rear.
By changing out the original engine of N3794N in 1952, with a Reconditioned Continental Model E-185-8 (The Heavy case serial 8, added 22 pounds extra to the Bonanza 35 V tail N3794N)    

Weight and balance Mock scenario of N3794N February 3, 1959, is as follows ...   
Pilot left front seat 165 pounds (Pilot Roger Peterson)  
Right seat front passenger 175 pounds (Passenger Buddy Holly)  
Rear left seat passenger 195 pounds (Passenger Ritchie Valens)  
Rear right seat passenger 220 pounds (Passenger Big Bopper)  
Luggage / Baggage  60 plus pounds (Estimated Luggage amount)  
39 Gallons of fuel total capacity / 234 pounds   

N3794N - Would N3793N's weight and balance have been under, within or outside the CG of the 1947 Bonanza 35 V-Tail (Reconditioned Continental Model E-185-8, which is 22 pounds heavier than original) to accomplish a normal flight characteristic.  
With the N3794N simulated weight and balance mock scenario for February 3, 1959 flight the planned flight is "Way outside the CG" weight and balance by 100 to 150 pounds. (Now ... let's place some luggage / baggage in the compartment!)  

The passengers arrived at the airport about 0040 and after their baggage had been properly stowed on board, the pilot and passengers boarded the aircraft. Pilot Peterson told Mr. Dwyer that he would file his flight plan by radio when airborne. While the aircraft was being taxied to the end of runway 17, Peterson called ATCS and asked for the latest local and en route weather. This was given to him as not having changed materially en route; however, the local weather was now reported as: Precipitation ceiling 3,000 feet, sky obscured; visibility 6 miles; light snow; wind south 20 knots, gusts to 30 knots; altimeter setting 29.85 inches. 

A normal takeoff was made at 055 and the aircraft was observed to make a left 180-degree turn and climb to approximately 800 feet and then, after passing the airport to the east, to head in a northwesterly direction. Through most of the flight the tail light of the aircraft was plainly visible to Mr. Dwyer, who was watching from a platform outside the tower. When about five miles from the airport, Dwyer saw the tail light of the aircraft gradually descend until out of sight.   

The 1947 V-tail Bonanza 35's center-of-gravity envelope is relatively narrow, and loss of control with aft CG could be a contributing factor.  When the center of gravity or weight of an aircraft is outside the acceptable range, the aircraft may not be able to sustain flight, or it may be impossible to maintain the aircraft in level flight in some or all circumstances. Placing the CG or weight of an aircraft outside the allowed range can lead to an unavoidable crash of the aircraft.  When the fore-aft center of gravity is out of range, the aircraft may pitch uncontrollably down or up, and this tendency may exceed the control authority available to the pilot, causing a loss of control. The excessive pitch may be apparent in all phases of flight, or only during certain phases, such as take-off or descent. Because the burning of fuel gradually produces a loss of weight and possibly a shift in the center of gravity, it is possible for an aircraft to take off with the center of gravity in a position that allows full control, and yet later develop an imbalance that exceeds control authority. Calculations of center of gravity must take this into account (often part of this is calculated in advance by the manufacturer and incorporated into CG limits). Few aircraft impose a minimum weight for flight (although a minimum pilot weight is often specified), but all impose a maximum weight. If the maximum weight is exceeded, the aircraft may not be able to achieve or sustain controlled, level flight. Excessive take-off weight may make it impossible to take off within available runway lengths, or it may completely prevent take-off.  
Excessive weight in flight may make climbing beyond a certain altitude difficult or impossible, or it may make it impossible to maintain an altitude.    

Note: 1947 Bonanza 35 V-Tail placement of the landing gear switch, right side of the throttle quadrant has led to a significant number of gear retractions when the pilot really intended to raise the flaps.   

The above is intended to invite The NTSB "Cold Case" Investigative Unit to reexamine the Mason City accident of February 3, 1959?      
Kindest Regards  
L J 
L J Coon  
Research: Donna L. Cleaves

Can you help LJ fill in a few more of the blanks?  If so, please contact him at the email address shown above.  Meanwhile, a quick search of The Forgotten Hits Website turned up these articles on Buddy Holly published during recent years:   
http://forgottenhits60s.blogspot.com/2009/02/forgotten-hits-readers-remembers-day.html http://forgottenhits60s.blogspot.com/2012/02/february-3rd.html