David Blackburst Archive:From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Blackburst)
David Ferrie's Houston Trip
Subject: Ferrie's Houston Trip I
Date: 16 Jun 2000 00:00:00 GMT
I know I'm inviting controversy with this post, but it needs to be said.
We've all heard the story dozens of times. David Ferrie and two young companions drove some 400 miles to Houston through one of the worst thunderstorms in years, on November 22, 1963. A curious trip by a curious man at a curious time. What is curious to many about the timing is the fact that the trip occurred on night of the assassination (see separate post), and that this recreational trip is said to have taken place through one of the worst thunderstorms in years.
David Ferrie was in Federal Court in New Orleans to hear the verdict in the Carlos Marcello case at 3:15pm. After leaving the courthouse, he attended a Marcello victory celebration at the Royal Orleans Hotel, then went to the Kohn School to pick up his friend Alvin Roland Beauboeuf. At around 5:00pm, Ferrie and Beauboeuf drove to Ferrie's apartment to watch the TV assassination coverage with Layton Patrick Martens and John Ernest Irion. At about 6:30pm, Ferrie and Beauboeuf went to the home of Melvin Stacey Coffey and the three discussed a weekend trip. At about 7:00pm, they left Coffey's home and drove to Kenner for dinner and drinks at John Paul's Restaurant, a hangout for pilots from Moisant Airport.
Interviewed a few days later, Ferrie and Coffey gave consistent accounts of the time of their departure from the New Orleans area, headed southwest to Houston: NOPD report of Ferrie interview by Assistant District Attorney Frank Klein: "[Ferrie] related a story of having left New Orleans at about 9:00pm, Friday November 22, 1963."
US Secret Service report of Ferrie interview:
"[Ferrie] said that he departed New Orleans at about 9:00pm on 11-22-63"
FBI report of Ferrie interview:
"[Ferrie] said that at approximately 9:00pm or shortly after 9:00pm, November 22, 1963, he, Beauboeuf and Coffey left John Paul's Restaurant to go to Houston."
FBI report of interview with Coffey:
"[Coffey] said they left Kenner between 9:00 and 9:30pm that night." Beauboeuf declined to be interviewed on the matter in 1963. (Several years later, in 1967 and 1978, when memories were not as fresh, the travelers were less sure about such details as times.)
In 1963, the US Weather Bureau kept records of local climatological data from such locations as Moisant Airport and Houston International Airport. The hourly precipitation report at New Orleans was as follows:
4-5pm Fog, thunder
5-6pm Light rain shower, .04
6-7pm Light rain shower, .03
7-8pm no precipitation
8-9pm Thunder, .02
9-10pm Light rain shower .49
10-11pm Light rain shower .12
The New Orleans reports from Moisant Airport showed that the 8-9pm thunderstorm was not unusually severe.
The hourly precipitation report at Houston showed light rain showers during the 9pm-5am period.
At shortly after 9:00pm, when Ferrie, Beauboeuf and Coffey said they left the New Orleans area, the thunderstorm had ended and turned to light rain, a condition that prevailed all along the route to Houston. Beauboeuf recently confirmed that the weather was rainy. (It was presumably apparent that the thunderstorm had subsided, but it was possible for pilot Ferrie to confirm the weather forecast by asking one of the pilots at John Paul's [a hangout for pilots from Moisant--DB, June 1, 1999], or by phoning the airport himself.) [Even if Ferrie did not ask a pilot there for a weather update, he was a licensed PILOT himself, and was in the habit of phoning the tower at Moisant or Houston, or the Weather Service for an update.--DB, March 24, 1999]
In light of the foregoing, it does not appear accurate to say that Ferrie, Beauboeuf and Coffey drove 400 miles through a thunderstorm.
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