The Day the Music Died and Other Tragedies

I watched the Patsy Cline biopic the other day and it reminded me of all the talent that’s been lost due to stupid decisions by a pilot. Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens died because the pilot was not qualified to fly with instruments only. Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas died for the same reason and the fact that the pilot was an amateur (only 160ish hours flying). Stevie Ray Vaughn and the people in that helicopter died because the pilot decided to fly with near zero visibility and promptly slammed into a mountain seconds after take off.

In all three incidents, the pilots were to blame for flying in very poor conditions. These deaths were all 100% avoidable.

I have 27 hours of flight training, which is just past soloing. My father had over 1000 flight hours and was instrument rated. It is incredible to me that people would board an aircraft when the weather is obviously terrible. And it pisses me off that a pilot would go ahead and fly despite lack of training and obviously terrible conditions. Even with instrument ratings, there are still times to avoid flying!

My father had a Bonanza A36 (4 passenger plus 2 pilots) that he flew regularly from E TN to his restaurant in MO. Only once did he (with my mother!!) attempt to fly in poor conditions. It was cold and icy but he took off after deicing. Once you are above the weather, ice is not an issue. BUT they had to land in KY because the ice had compromised the plane’s handling before he could get above the weather. He told me about this and how scared he was – it was early in his flying years. That was the last time he ever flew in bad conditions. Later on, even after getting his instrument rating (IFR means he can fly without seeing the ground which is VFR or visual flying), he was still very particular about when he would fly.

I suppose all the pilots above might’ve been in a similar position, perhaps they’d never flown in such dire conditions and didn’t realise how bad it really was. But two of these guys were professionals. I expect more from someone with 700 hrs of flying! (The Buddy Holly pilot was a pro, but even HE flew in IFR conditions when he was not qualified to do so. HUBRIS.)

I won’t take a commercial flight if the weather is bad. If they have to deice the damn plane to get it off the ground – NOPE. My ass will not be on it. I don’t even like flying in the rain!! One Christmas we flew to Detroit and they hadn’t bothered to clean off the goddam runway! We skidded several hundred feet upon landing. Most ppl didn’t even know it, BUT I DID. I was LIVID when we got off the plane. Luckily the weather cleared up by the time we flew back. Just damn.

So, hey kids, just don’t fly if it’s questionable. Seems pretty logical to me. I don’t care what the pilot or airline says, if you feel that the weather is too bad, don’t get on the plane.