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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Tis the Season!

It is that time of year again when one reflects on what has passed, particularly after the hype of Christmas has died off a little and we are faced with the prospect of ringing in a new year.

It is hard to believe that over two and a half years ago I flew to Unionville, Missouri to see the crash site of Flight 11 first-hand and also to meet people like Duane Crawford and Ronnie Cook face to face. Where has that time gone!?

Since then I have journeyed back to the USA every year as more information has come to light about Flight 11. I have met more people, connected more families and "joined the dots" in a lot of different ways. And of course all this from a blog started WAY back in 2007.

This year I had the pleasure of meeting with Kathryn Hamilton of the Hamilton family whose father was board the ill-fated flight in 1962. While over in the United States and in fact walking around Hollywood in California I answered my mobile phone on a beautiful hot day to find my future employer eagerly on the phone offering me a job at the national carrier of New Zealand.

I accepted and signed the papers when I returned to Auckland in late June. I have not looked back since then and working in aviation is an absolute delight; like the icing on the cake, especially for someone so involved with aviation as I was in a personal manner.

With all that aside I wish all the Flight 11 "family" a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Former Continental Staff circa 1950s/1960s

It has come to my attention over the years of my experiences with Flight 11 that a number of former Continental employees have reunited via this blog and the events surrounding Flight 11 memorial services over the last few years.

Not only this but it has also brought about a number of ex crew (who in some cases were colleagues of the victims of Flight 11) to enquire as to where they may be able to go to post old stories and memories in an open-style "forum."

I have thought about the feasibility of starting an ancillary blog for these former employees of the day to come forward and share any stories they have, Flight 11 related or not.

If anyone is interested in this or knows anyone with a similar site do let me know as it is something I may start merely as an open-post "wall" if you will for people to put their memories out there.

In keeping with the Flight 11 theme however I would keep it strictly from that era... any thoughts or directions from anyone would be greatly appreciated in this matter. I know many of you have often asked "I wonder whatever happened to so and so...". I'm sure we could unravel a few more mysteries of the day


Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Continental Eagle Staff Magazine - Captain Fred Gray - December, 1950

I received a Continental Airlines internal company publication detailing the end of year activities of Continental Airlines. It is dated December 1950.

The pages contain a fascinating snapshot into life at Continental when it was still a "growing-up" airline. The close-knit Continental "family" appear on the pages at various social events the airline held for its employees. Technological and aviation advances are also mentioned along with the company's latest exploits.

Of particular note on one of the pages is a picture of none other than Captain Fred Gray who would pilot the ill-fated Flight 11 some twelve years later.

Here is the excerpt from the magazine below.

Magazine courtesy of Ms Jayne Specht.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

52 years - Lest We Forget - Continental Airlines Flight 11

Th 52nd anniversary of Continental Airlines Flight 11 is approaching. May 22nd marks the date when 44 innocent lives were taken out of this world as they hurtled across the dark skies of rural America and ended near the town of Unionville, Missouri.

Two years ago we marked the 50th anniversary and it feels just like the other day I was in Unionville over that hot memorial weekend in 2012.

Although May 22nd may bring a rollercoaster of emotions to do with the senseless loss of the Boeing 707 and the souls on board, may it also bring a flicker of closure and peace knowing that this event has not been forgotten. Neither have the people on board whose lives were cut so short.

Continental Airlines Flight 11 - Lest We Forget.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Captain Richard Grigsby, Continental Airlines

Following on from the aftermath of Flight 11, a friend and colleague of Captain Fred Gray had written a poem called "Top O Climb". The poem was published in The Denver Post in 62 by Captain Richard Grigsby. Grigsby had a distinguished and long flying career. I had made efforts to contact him to see if he was still alive to perhaps capture his memories of Captain Gray and the other crew aboard Flight 11. Sadly I found Mr Grigsby's obituary dated February 5th 2014. I hope he was aware of our efforts re Flight 11. His lovely poem dedicated to Fred Gray is as follows: (unfortunately we haven't ever confirmed the original date of publication but it was some time shortly after May 22nd, 1962)


The big jet starts to roll reluctantly,
For flight ahead is long and there is fuel
Which must be burdened, else
It cannot be.
That cunning will be victor in the duel
With Time and Space.
What power it takes to lift away from ground-
To blast such heavy burden into flight!
A thousand banshees couldn't wail the sound,
A thousand winged horses match the might of this great bird!
Her climb is rapid, now that speed is gained.
She flashes upward, forward, winning free;
But still the awful power must be sustained
To lift her into Nature's rarest sea
Far, in the sky.
At top o'climb, the battle all but won,
She settles down, her only labor just
To cruise a close companion to the sun.
Before she drops her power to "idle thrust",
Descends the other side.


Capt. Continental Air Lines

Saturday, 5 April 2014


The blog has passed the 30,000 view mark; extraordinary for something that, jut a few years ago, hadn't even been heard of on the internet.

Amazing what the internet can do! :-)

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Juliet November Charlie Book

My book of my aviation "memoirs" (if they can be called that at my age) has been completed. The title is "Juliet November Charlie". It details my involvements with Flight 11 and also has a number of other amusing tales from my time flying around New Zealand. I intend to send it to publisher's by the end of January. If any of the families connected with the Flight 11 tragedy would like a manuscript emailed to them please let me know @

Please note that I will not be emailing copies to members of the public  - family members only.