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Roger Peterson
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    (May 24, 1937-February 3, 1959)
    Born in Alta, Iowa
    Pilot for Dwyer Flying Service in Mason City, Iowa
    Contracted by the manager of the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa to fly a charter plane to Fargo, North Dakota on February 3, 1959, with three passengers ($36 per person)
    Passengers were Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. 'Big Bopper' Richardson
    Crashed in a cornfield five minutes after a 1:00 AM take-off, killing himself and his passengers on what is called 'The Day the Music Died'
    Reference is to a lyric in the 1971 Don McLean tribute song 'American Pie' (which was the name of the aircraft)
    Retrospective documentaries of the three singers universally refer to his as 'the pilot,' never by name.
    The Civil Aeronautics Board investigation concluded that the primary cause of the crash was pilot error.
    He was still taking flight instrumentation tests and not rated for night-time flying, having to rely solely on the plane's instruments rather than his vision.
    It is widely speculated that the gyroscope in the plane was more sophisticated than he was used to, leading him to believe he was ascending rather than descending, causing the fatal crash.
    A stainless steel monument was erected near the crash site for the three singers in 1988 - and as an afterthought, one was built and displayed for him in 2009.
    He earned his private pilot's certificate in October 1954 (while still in high school) and his commercial pilot's certificate in April 1958.
    In September 1958, he married his high school sweetheart.
    He was not given accurate flash warnings about the deteriorating weather conditions of his flight route.
    The coroner concluded that all four people on the flight 'died instantly,' so nobody suffered an agonizing death.
    His parents received condolence letters from the families of Holly and Valens.
    When a 4-foot-tall granite memorial for the four was dedicated outside the Surf Ballroom (June 1988), his widow and parents were there, making it the first time the families of all four victims had gathered together.

Credit: Scar Tactics

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