Dwyer Flying Service - Private Charter Tuesday February 3, 1959
Buddy Holly chartered the plane to fly to Fargo after appearing as part of the Winter Dance Party tour at Clearlake, Iowa. J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, who was suffering from the flu, talked Waylon Jennings into giving up his seat. Ritchie Valens won a coin-toss and went in place of Tommy Allsup. He commented "I never won anything in my life" after winning the coin-toss. The plane took off into deteriorating weather conditions. The pilot, Roger Peterson, was not certified to fly IFR. The wreckage of the plane was found the next morning in a snowy meadow, 5 miles NW of the airport. The plane hit the ground at a high rate of speed and singers Ritchie Valens, 17, Buddy Holly, 22, Jiles P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, 28, as well as the pilot, were killed instantly. It appeared, the pilot became disoriented and flew the plane into the ground. Officially: The pilot's decision to undertake a flight in which the likelihood of encountering IFR conditions existed, when he was not certified to fly IFR. Also, deficiencies in the weather briefing and the pilot's unfamiliarity with the instrument which determines the attitude of the aircraft. In later years, a story appeared in the Iowa Globe Gazette in which a pilot, Al Potter, flying in the vicinity of the aircraft that night, claimed he was in contact with the aircraft shortly before it crashed. Potter stated the pilot radioed he had taken on ice and was losing power.