Bill Larson, besides being one of the smartest men I've ever known, was not only a charter pilot for Jim Reeves, the Blue Boys and others -- he went on to have a distinguished career as a pilot for Eastern airlines who flew for 30 years (everything from Constellations to being the captain of Jumbo Jets) with an unblemished record.
He spent YEARS with me sifting through the evidence as I was assembling it, analyzing every piece. Just before publication of my book, I shared a lot of this with current FAA men as well as professional crash scene investigators (even a guy who teaches aircraft accident investigation). They were all mightily impressed with the reconstruction Bill and I had done. Furthermore, the neighbor who turned out to be an eyewitness confirmed details.
But I want to make several other points. Halmond Atkins, the tower supervisor at Berry Field who was on duty that day, told me in a taped interview that when the blip disappeared from controller John Hettish's radar screen, John told him that Jim crashed in that woods near the big power tower grid.
When I taped interviews with John separately on two occasions, he brought up this same point.
Furthermore, contemporaneous internal memoranda from the airport showed that they were so frustrated at being told that ground searchers had already searched the woods and there was no wreckage there, that they were getting ready on Sunday to assemble their own team to go down to Baxter Lane and search the woods themselves. That's how convinced the airport officials were FROM THE TIME THE PLANE WENT DOWN, that the crash occurred where it did.
Now why were searchers told to look elsewhere? Bill Pursell, a pianist who had played on many of Jim's RCA and demo sessions, rushed down to Baxter and Franklin when he heard of the missing plane. He told me he motioned over to the woods and suggested they start searching there, but someone told them NO, the plane was reported missing over toward Radnor Lake to the northwest. THIS WAS NOT TRUE. How did this happen?
Yet whomever was directing ground searchers deliberately ignored the input from the airport officials themselves! Think about that for a moment. The last individuals to track that plane and communicate with the pilot were offering guidance as to where the wreckage could be located, and this information was discarded. WHY?
There are too many troubling anomalies about the Reeves plane crash and especially its AFTERMATH to dismiss them. The fact that two FBI agents showed up at Mrs. Dean Manuel's home shortly after the crash and started quizzing her about any connections DEAN might have had to organized crime doesn't strike you as strange?
It was known by Saturday morning among certain individuals in Nashville (among them Chet Atkins) that there was a frantic search on for a briefcase Jim was carrying. Baxter Road was blocked off and inaccessible to searchers. WHY?
The unsolicited phone call I received from a respected Nashville police officer (who figured in key investigations during his career) and who put the guy on the phone who purported to formerly work in U.S. intelligence and who told me NOT to probe further into the crash isn't odd? Do you think this was a practical joke? This individual informed me that Jim had been a "courier."
Ted Staples, a retired judge in Texas and one of Jim's closest friends, found it odd that Reeves -- as a general aviation pilot -- was able to land at military airports. Private pilots normally don't do that. Jim also insisted that when he flew to visit Ted in a rural area of Texas, that a guard be posted to watch his rental plane 24 hours a day, which was NOT the norm.
The destruction of records relating to Jim AFTER I filed a FOIA request, and the fact other records are under government seal with JFK assassination papers is not convincing enough for you to believe that there is more to this story than meets the eye? Especially when Reeves was in Dallas when Kennedy was killed and made no secret of the fact that he recognized Lee Harvey Oswald as having come to his dances at Dewey Groom's nightclub (that Jim and his band had just played the night before Kennedy was killed). I've already mentioned this in an earlier posting here and it's in my book.
You can go back and retrieve accident reports for air crashes decades older than Jim's, yet Jim's is missing from all agency files and certain other records are also missing. Coincidence? I did manage to retrieve this vital information but circumvented usual channels to do so.
I know that Bill Larson believes, as do I, that weather was the key factor in Jim Reeves' plane crash. But what happened AFTER accident is the most suspicious part of the whole story.
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