In the early morning of February 3, 1959, a Beech Bonanza carrying Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) crashed shortly after takeoff from the Mason City, Iowa airport, killing all on board. The accident entered aviation history and American popular culture.
In early 1959 Buddy Holly’s band was playing a “Winter Dance Tour” across the wintry upper Midwest. The travel logistics were less than ideal, involving long drives in an-ill equipped bus, in sub-freezing and sometimes sub-zero temperatures. Holly and Richardson were both ill, and Holly decided to charter a flight to the band’s next stop in Moorhead, Minnesota to avoid another lengthy road trip after playing the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on the night of February 2.