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Saturday, 26 May 2007

Photo of Crashed fuselage of CO Flight 11

Continental Airlines Flight 11 crashed on May 22nd 1962; this photo was taken the day after the crash when the wreckage was actually discovered in a muddy field just outside of Unionville, Missouri.
Link to Wikipedia Article on CO Flight 11

Continental Air Lines Flight 11

Hi all.
Well never having blogged before I apologize in advance for any mistakes or waffling that you may find here.

Basically I'm a 23 year old in Auckland, New Zealand. I'm also an aviation enthusiast. I happened to come across the tragedy of Continental Air Lines Flight 11 one day when scanning the aviation safety network site. After checking out many of the facts of the crash I often wondered why there wasn't more about it. I am also shocked to find no memorial in the vicinity of the crash. It seems that so much time has moved on that there is nothing on the web from anyone who remembers the crash or from anyone who lost someone on the flight.

After all it was the very first sabotage of a commercial jet airliner in the world. The plane, a 1959 Boeing 707-124 (N70775) was carrying 45 passengers and crew (37 passengers and 8 crew). A scheduled flight, CO 11 left Chicago's O'Hare International Airport just after 8:30pm on the night of May 22nd 1962 bound for Los Angeles with an intermediate stop at Kansas City Downtown Airport.

A bomb, placed by Thomas G. Doty in the lavatory exploded at sometime between 9:17 and 9:22pm and the aircraft suffered a rapid decompression and descent. The pilots donned their masks and begun a controlled descent to safe altitude. The tail of the plane separated however, and the forward section and main fuselage went plummeting to the ground, tearing off the four powerful engines with the sheer force of the descent.

Wreckage rained down from south of Cincinnati to Unionville, Missouri where the major sections of the aircraft crashed. One passenger managed to survive that terrible night but died early the next morning from his injuries. He was 27 year old Takehiko Nakano, an engineer from Illinois.

HARDLY ANYTHING is available on the net regarding this crash and the families of the victims that were on-board. There is nothing on Thomas G. Doty either. He had a five-year old daughter and was married. That's that. It seems he had become depressed, taken out excessive life insurance then boarded the flight. The bomb detonated indicating that at some stage during the flight or perhaps even before take-off, Doty had visited the lavatory to place the bomb inside one of the wast-towel bins.

What I find amazing is that forty-five years after the crash and there appears to be no memorial in the area for it. Unionville, Missouri is isolated and sparsely populated. I often wonder if the aircraft had come down in Cincinnati would more have survived? Indeed the plane was not reached for hours after it crashed because of confusion as to where it's specific resting place was.

I often wonder what it would have been like back in 1962 for the families and friends waiting for loved ones to come off that flight; the thought that they had been blown out of the sky must have been awful, and in such a lonely spot of Missouri, right in the middle of the USA. We try to forget plane crashes, but 45 years on there must be relatives of those who died who are still grieving from what happened all those years ago. Many may have moved on. Indeed history seems to have passed them by entirely. The scarcity of information is testament to this. No one has ever come out and said "My dad/mother/wife/son/daughter was on that plane all those years ago". Searches through the archives of "The Daily Iowegian" reveal little except for articles published in the days following the crash. More recent articles by the same newspaper have been full of inaccurate information. 45 years on and CO Flight 11 must be fresh to can never fully forget the circumstances of someone's death, particularly when it was so tragic, sudden and lonely as this was.

At the time it was thought a violent storm had brought the aircraft down. The weather in the area on the night of the crash was poor with tornadoes and thunderstorms predicted. Flight 11 had requested route deviations to vector around the storm shortly before the explosion and subsequent crash.

My blog here is simply to state two things: Why is there no memorial? and Why so little information on what seems to be such a tragic (and historical) crash?

The Accident Report is rather sad to read. The crew seems to have done all they could when the explosion happened; many of the passengers were important businessmen and the cabin crew were all very young. The plane itself was a pioneering jet-liner that ushered in the age of jet travel and back in 1962, a 707 would have been the very pinnacle of luxury, comfort and technology.

We will never know what went on in the cabin that evening, what was served, what was said and done but we do know that innocent lives were lost and a flagship aircraft for Continental Airlines was deliberately destroyed.

Whether or not Doty's widow was ever hounded after the crash is also not known. Indeed there seems to be no record in newspapers from anywhere in the USA regarding the finding and naming of Doty as the culprit after the investigation into the crash.

May those passengers and crew rest in peace. 45 years is a long time. They are gone but hopefully not forgotten.

If anyone has any further information regarding Continental Airlines Flight 11 please contact me: or simply blog me. I know it may seem odd that I have such an interest in such an old tragedy but my point-of-view comes from an aviation historical background and also one of sheer disbelief that none of the souls on board seem to be recognized or remembered in a memorial in the area.

As an update...MANY friends and family of victims have contacted me recently with information regarding CO11. It has been such a pleasure to deal with all of you and to hear your often harrowing recount of 1962. Recent developments to the NOT-forgotten CO11 crash include a push by locals for a memorial in the area. There are now more people involved than ever before in reviving the memory of this historical air crash.