One of the more interesting inventions in the early 1970’s was the Mixar “Flying Pinto.” It was a modified Ford Pinto which you could drive to your local airport and attach a set of wings. It gained a lot of attention in the summer of 1973. It was on magazine covers. It was on network newscasts. It was going to put flight in reach of the middle class.
In September, 1973 I began my senior year in high school. My brother worked evenings at the Officer’s Club on Hamilton Air Force Base just north of San Francisco. Once upon arriving home after midnight he popped into my room.
“The Pinto Plane crashed. The people working on it were killed.”
In a half-asleep state I acknowledged what he said.
The next morning I looked in the San Francisco Chronicle. I could find no mention of the plane or the crash. After school I heard no mention of it on the radio. There was no mention of it on the TV news. It was as if it was a project of the Mission Impossible team and the Secretary had disavowed any knowledge of the project and the people working on it.
Less than ten days later, I was asleep and my brother again popped his head into my room when he got home after midnight.
“Jim Croce was killed in a plane crash.”
The next morning I looked in the San Francisco Chronicle. I could find no mention of the the crash or of Jim Croce. Nobody mentioned it at school. After school I heard no mention of it on the radio. There was no mention of it on the TV news. I still don’t know why. Maybe it was too late to make it in the morning paper but old news by the time I got home from school. That day happened to be my brother’s day off. I asked him at the dinner table:
“Did you come into my room last night and tell me that Jim Croce was killed in a plane crash?
“And a few days ago did you come into my room and tell me that the Pinto Plane had crashed?”
Funny. I have not seen anything about either one. I was thinking they were dreams.”
“You must have just missed it”
I have read that Croce planned to tell his wife when he got home from that tour that that was his last tour. He wanted to be around to see his son grow up. He was not going to get out of music, but he was going to get into areas where he did not have to travel so much. He never got the chance.
That was fifty years ago. Besides being a tragic event for the people involved, it makes you wonder what great things he could have accomplished. While Croce’s most well know songs are somewhat in the novelty vein, he also wrote some heartfelt songs as well.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Croce.