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Monday, 20 June 2011

A fascinating story...

This was emailed to me by Tim Duley who's father worked at Continental the night that Flight 11 took off from Chicago. The contents of that email tell a remarkable story of that evening and of what is likely the last person to see anyone from CO11 alive. It is as follows...

My name is Tim Duley.  I just visited your blog for Continental Airlines Flight 11.  I am a pilot for jetBlue Airways.  My father, Tom Duley, worked the ticket counter and gates (mostly gates) for Continental Airlines for 23 years.  He had mentioned Continental Flight 11 to me numerous times.  My father was the gate agent working Continental Flight 11.  Here are the details he had told me - hopefully everything I write is accurate.  
A man (Thomas Doty) bought an insurance policy for a million dollars from one of the insurance counters in the terminal.  In those days there was no airport security.  It was like a bus terminal - just walk through to the gates and board your flight.  My father told me that this flight was instrumental in airport security checkpoints.  He also told me that normally the insurance counter would have called the gate to tell him that a passenger (naming the passenger) had just bought a large insurance policy.  My father stated that with that information they would not have allowed the passenger to board.  But for some reason, the insurance counter did not call the gate to report this individual that night.  The passenger (Thomas Doty) and his secretary(possibly girlfriend) arrived to the gate after they had already closed the flight and pulled the airstairs (no jetbridges in those days).  But in those days customer service was very important (I dont know if they tracked on time performace back then which may explain why they boarded him after the aircraft door was already closed).  So my dad had the airstairs pulled back up to the Boeing 707 (may have actually been a Boeing 720?) and Thomas Doty boarded.  My dad mentioned the Captain and told me he was a great pilot, very friendly, a nice gentleman, and my dad had great respect for him.  My dad also told me that the forward flight attendant gave my dad a cup of coffee and said "have a good night Tom!" just before he closed the forward door once again.  He was the last person on the ground to speak personally to the crew.  They later found her dead dangling in a tree after the crash.  My father told me that it was later discovered that the passenger he held the flight for named his wife in the insurance policy, that he had a bomb in his briefcase, and that he set it off in the aft lavatory.  He also told me that the original movie Airport was based on Continental Flight 11, however the outcome of CAL flt 11 was much more tragic.  I think that this flight weighed heavily on my dad for the rest of his life.  My father married my mother who was a Continental flight attendant and former Registered Nurse.  Back then my mother and all flight attendants were forced to quit if they became married or pregnant.  So my mother went back to nursing.  My fathers career took us to LAX where he became a DPS (Director of Passenger Service) agent, then to SAT (San Antonio) where he became a ticket counter supervisor, then to DEN where he worked as a gate agent until his career was ended by Frank Lorenzo.  My father passed away in October 2003.  
This is what I remember from what my father told me about Continental Flight 11.  I apologize if any part of it is inaccurate.  I wish my father was still alive to see the great work you have been doing for the memory of Continental Airlines Flight 11.  Please contact me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.
Tim Duley