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Monday, 30 December 2013


Wishing all the "Flight 11 family" a happy New Year and here's to a prosperous 2014. Hope everyone had a great Christmas too.


My book that I have been writing since late 2012 is about to be sent to the publisher's in January 2014. As many of you know it details some of my aviation exploits over the years and of note is the Flight 11 chapter which details my involvement in Flight 11 and my recollections of the 2012 50th anniversary memorial service.

I will keep readers of this blog posted about the progress of this book.

Failing any interest from publishers I will self-publish in some form or assured.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Flight 11 book

I am currently in the process of writing a book about my aviation experiences around the globe and not surprisingly I want to feature Continental Flight 11 in it.

If any of the relatives have any photos or anything they'd like to share with me I'd be very grateful.

Additionally if anyone else has any other materials they think might be useful I'd love to hear about them.

Contact me at

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Continental Airlines 1962 Timetable

I have sourced the cover (sadly the cover only!) of a Continental Airlines timetable from 1962. Here is the image of the cover as below.

I have also sourced a number of copies of scans of timetables from 1959, 1963 and 1965 from Continental. If people want to see these send me an email and I can email a copy of the images.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Flight 11 documentary

On Thursday September 26th, 2013, a documentary segment about Flight 11 will air at 9pm on the Travel Channel. It will feature in the "Mysteries at the Museum" programme. 

Boeing B-47 Stratojet out of Forbes AFB, Topeka, Kansas

As many people connected with Flight 11 are aware, a USAF Boeing B-47 Stratojet that was in the vicinity of Kirksville, MO, on the night of May 22nd, saw a bright flash in the to the north of the aircraft's position. It is generally accepted that the flash seen by the commander of this B-47 flight was the explosion of Flight 11.

The B-47 was an important aircraft in the USAF, particularly around the time of Flight 11s demise.

Does anyone who was in the USAF or who knows anyone who was in the USAF at the time, have any information on the specifics of the B-47 incident involving Flight 11?

As it was reported widely at the time and the sighting was included in the Flight 11 accident report it would be fair to assume that someone, somewhere, may recall being on that B-47 that night or know the people who were or maybe heard about it later at the Forbes Air Force Base. It would be interesting to see if anyone comes forward with any further information.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Pictures from Putnam County Museum taken by Sandy Crawford

Sandy Crawford took these photos down at the Putnam County Museum. I thought I'd put them up here as she does a better job than me with a camera (it's merely the fact I'm a technophobe and can't operate mine!)

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Lake Thunderhead from 32,000 feet.

These pictures were taken from a commercial jet flying very near Lake Thunderhead. This lake was an addition to the landscape post Flight 11. This gives you a good layout of the accident area and you can also see in some of the shots the runway of Unionville Airport, MO.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

David E. Olssen's family visit Unionville

The family of David Olssen, Director of Passenger Services on Flight 11, visited Unionville on July 2.

They had a look around the Putnam County Museum and at the memorial. They were also lunch guests of Mr Duane Crawford at a cafe in Unionville.

David's widow Mary C. Olssen, daughter Trina M. Olssen and sister-in-law Margaret Selling and Robert Ibnonsalah made the deviation through Unionville on their way up to Michigan from Texas.

Mary is 91.

I'm very pleased they made it to Unionville.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Henry Hanna

On June 4th Unionville received two visitors from Minnesota. Patrick Hanna and his wife Betty. Patrick is the son of Flight 11 passenger Henry Hanna. He was a superintendent with the "Michigan, Wisconsin and American Louisiana Gas Pipeline" company. 

Duane Crawford and Ron Cook took the Hanna's to the crash site and  later on Maribeth DeHaven took them around the museum.

It's always nice when families of Flight 11 travel to Missouri to see the site and town first hand...not to mention the memorial in the town square. 


Friday, 7 June 2013

Twitter @CalFlight11

I have opened up a Twitter account @CALFlight11 to extend the circulation and visibility of this blog. With many younger people now using Twitter in their everyday lives I felt it prudent to keep the information on the blog in the most relevant places. Many of the kids I spoke to at Putnam County High asked if there was anything about Flight 11 online so they could look it up. Of course Facebook and Twitter were mentioned a lot but is becoming a bit "old hat".

The blog of course will remain the main site and remain updated etc. The Twitter account is merely a supplementary tool and link to the blog.

Blog URL change

Since 2007 the blog has had a misspelt URL. Instead of being Continental it reads Continenal (no "t").

This has been pointed out many times. However changing the URL would mean that people who have it saved in documents or favourites wouldn't be able to find it again and it upsets its visibility in google search as well. 

So I have decided to leave it misspelt purely so that it never loses its place on the net and people can find it.

I'm sure people will understand my decision. 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

David E. Olssen

I have been contacted by the niece of David E. Olssen, director of passenger services on Flight 11.

She has a remarkable story regarding Mr Olssen. He left behind a wife and two children. However as with many Flight 11 related things there is a twist to the story. Mr Olssen was in New Zealand during WWII. He even made a pendant out of a New Zealand coin which his niece wears to this day. Ironic considering a New Zealander (myself) helped get the memorial rolling for the flight.

Another remarkable connection and a welcome addition to the "Flight 11 family".

Thursday, 23 May 2013

51 years ago today

Today marks the 51st anniversary of the tragedy of Continental Airlines Flight 11. 

This will appear dated on the blog as May 23rd as this blog follows New Zealand time.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

A lunch in Los Angeles

After stepping off Qantas QF15 from Brisbane to Los Angeles and waiting an excruciating 1 hr 40 minutes to clear customs I found myself whisked through L.A. to the home of Tim Duley. After a quick spruce up I was on the road again heading for Glendale for a lunch with a most important lady; Kathryn Hamilton. Kathryn's Dad Maurice Hamilton was on Flight 11 on a last-minute business trip. We met at a beautiful cafe just by the business district of Glendale in the California sun. We discussed what Kathryn remembered about the night Flight 11 vanished from the radar. She had a huge scrapbook full of newspaper clippings and articles about Flight 11 from the time of the crash up to the renewed interest in the past few years.

I had met her sister Maureen and her brother Tom last year at the 50th anniversary memorial. It was so good to meet another family member. Despite lack of sleep and a hint of jet lag I was amazed to meet this wonderful and amazing person and for her to reach out to a total stranger who had flown half way across the world for "lunch" in Glendale that day.

Her and Tim (his father Tom closed the door on Flight 11 that ill-fated evening) and I chatted for what seemed hours. It really was such a pleasant thing.

It was especially interesting to Kathryn to learn that Tim's father had been the last person to see anyone from Flight 11 alive. Of course around 50 minutes later the catastrophic results of a deluded man would spoil what had been a routine flight.

Even more interesting to Kathryn was learning about Sandy Glau, former Continental hostess who had spoken to the flight crew earlier that evening as they went to board the accident aircraft.

Below is a picture of Tim, Kathryn and myself in Glendale, CA. Once again it's such a rewarding thing for me to continue to connect the families of those connected with Flight 11.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Shibleys Point, Missouri and Flagler, Colorado

The Allis family (of second officer Dean Allen's family) reminded me of something I had meant to add to the blog in 2012 when I first met them at the 50th anniversary. It pertains to the rather unusual circumstance of Unionville being just over 20 miles from Shibleys Point. It is at Shibleys Point that members of the Allen family are buried. They were there at the time of Flight 11s demise and it is was a sort of comforting thing in 1962 to have Dean pass away near already deceased relatives.

I had the great honour to meet Dean Allen's sister who is 90 and currently resides in Flagler, Colorado. Mark Allis drove me from Hugo, Colorado to Flagler and back in the middle of deteriorating weather so we couldn't stay long due to falling snow and blizzard conditions.

Flagler incidentally was in the news headlines in 1951 when an airshow crash killed a number of spectators.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

A mini-reunion in Denver, Colorado

April 7th saw the blog author fly to Denver from Los Angeles to meet up with members from the Allen (Second officer) and Gray (pilot) families.

The big surprise was my meeting with Sandy Glau, former Continental hostess who vividly recalled the events of that evening in 1962.

Author with Sandy Glau and her husband John.

 Author with Sany Glau and her husband and members of the Gray family
 Author with members of the Gray family.
 Author with members of the Allen family.

Blog author with Jayne Specht and Duane Crawford

Miss P. Jayne Specht of Oskaloosa, Iowa has been an instrumental force in knowledge of Flight 11. She has not only sent me a tonne of newspaper clippings from the time of Flight 11 but also information regarding the accident aircraft's earlier hijacking in 1961. She was married to a Continental pilot (Joe Scordo) and attended Captain Fred Gray's funeral in Colorado. She has gone into great detail about the "brotherhood" at Continental between the pilots. Here she is pictured with the blog author in April 2013 in Pella, Iowa. The other gentleman in the picture is none other than Duane Crawford of Unionville, MO who pushed for the memorial in Unionville dedicated to Flight 11.

The legendary Sandy Glau with the blog author

Here is a snapshot of myself with Sandy Glau, former CAL hostess who flew N70775 the day of the incident and also said hello to the crew prior to 11s departure on the evening of 22/05/62.

Former Continental offices at LAX

The buildings in these photos are reportedly the very same ones that were in use by Continental Airlines at the time of Flight 11. They are now sitting derelict at Los Angeles International Airport opposite the LAX police centre. Many thanks to Tim Duley for alerting me to their presence and for taking me there.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sandy Glau

I had the pleasure of meeting former Continental hostess Sandy Glau last Sunday in Denver (April 7). Her and the Allen family and Gray family had dinner in Denver. Sandy saw the flight crew of Flight 11 before they took off for that ill fated flight. Sandy was such a pleasure to speak to. Photos to follow when I return from the USA. Sandy also had a fascinating insight into air travel in the early 1960s and the impact Flight 11 had on them all following the crash. She spoke of the crew as being some of the best at Continental; a wonderful sense of humour and professionalism all the way. Thank you Sandy!!!

Junior Johnson and LaVan Smith

I had the pleasure to speak at the Putnam County Care Facility today in Unionville, MO. I was quite nervous and managed to speak for a fair while with the help of Mr Duane Crawford. I also had the extra special privilege of meeting Mr Junior Jonhson and Mr LaVan Smith both of Unionville. Junior saw a flash in the sky the night of May 22 1962 and subsequently three bodies were found on his property. He also reports finding a plastic aftershave bottle well after the crash in a field. He told me seeing that flash in the sky has bugged him for 51 years.
LaVan Smith remembers assisting in the clean up of the wreckage of Flight 11. He dug out some of the engines with a bulldozer and reported seeing much of the wreckage first hand. Speaking to both these gentlemen was a touching experience and both have been affected for the rest of their lives by Flight 11. Junior also added that he was meant to head north to pick up a tractor the morning after and the road looked like it had been heavily worn down with all be response traffic. His house at the time was more or less right under the flight path of Flight 11. A truly remarkable experience.


Ronnie Cook, 17 years old at the time of Flight 11, and the first person to discover the wreck with his Dad, has informed me of a little known mystery regarding Flight 11. His father and him drove to the state line to bring back the first response to the wrecked aircraft. On the first trip back to the site they encountered a car with a man and someone from KSO is Des Moines. Ronnie informs me this was a radio station at that time. He says that a man in that car, probably from KSO, took the first ever pictures inside the wreck of the aircraft. Those pictures were never released and Ronnie never knew what to make of the man who took them. But he said they would have been the first snaps taken of inside the wrecked 707. If anyone knows anything of KSOs mysterious involvement get in touch. Of course the strangest thing is how would a Des Moines radio station get wind of the crash so quickly and of the precise location; and why were pictures taken that disappeared from sight and have supposedly never been handed over or released...interesting.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Alan S. Boyd

Tim Duley, the son of Flight 11s gate agent, has visited with Alan Boyd, the chief board member for the civil aeronautics board at the time of Flight 11. Mr Boyd who is now aged in his 90s very graciously agreed to speak with Tim. He didn't have anything new to add but he remembered Flight 11 and was happy to see that a memorial had been created. Mr Boyd did not actually go to the crash site but he oversaw the writing of the report. Many thanks to Tim Duley for arranging this meeting.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Drop down oxygen masks

A question which has left me wondering for years now (literally a decade) has finally been answered by Sandy Glau, a former Continental Airlines Boeing 707 stewardess.

The 707-120s that Continental were flying originally (1959-era machines) did indeed come with the typical drop-down style oxygen mask system that you would find today on any modern airliner.

The usual scenario is that in an explosive decompression the duty of cabin crew was to ensure people had their masks on while keeping passengers calm at the same time- this would be no easy task in a jet descending rapidly with flight attendants probably finding it tricky to move with the rapid descent and associated g-forces of that descent. Nonetheless this was the procedure.

It would also be usual for cabin crew to receive further instruction from the flight deck at some point when the aircraft was at a safe altitutde for passengers to breathe without the use of masks.

Flight 11 of course lost its tail at some point during the descent and it is appreciable that cabin-cockpit communications would have been impossible.

Friday, 18 January 2013

A snapshot of Continental pre jet-age

I was fortunate enough to be sent this Continental Airlines staff newsletter from December 1958. It offers an interesting insight into the airline business just prior to the jet age. Robert Six features on the second page. He was CEO at the time of Flight 11, 4 years later.