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1960s / Bomb Destroys CA Flight 11 - 1962
On Tuesday, May 22, 1962 a deadly act of madness caused Continental Airlines Flight #11 to be blown out of the sky. Eight crew members and 37 passengers perished. To date it is the worst airline disaster ever to occur in the skies over Missouri. The doomed flight departed Chicago's O'Hare Airport at 8:35 p.m. for Kansas City, MO. At the last second, Thomas G. Doty arrived at the departure gate. Although the airplane doors had been closed--and airline policy prohibits doors from being reopened--the doors were improperly reopened and Doty was permitted to board the aircraft. The flight was absolutely routine until the plane approached the Mississippi River. At that point the pilot informed air traffic control that he was deviating from the planned course to avoid severe thunderstorms in the area. In the vicinity of Centerville, IA, the radar image of the aircraft suddenly disappeared from the scope of Flight Following Service in Waverly, IA. It had nothing to do with inclement weather. At approximately 9:17 p.m. an explosion occurred in the right rear lavatory resulting in separation of the airplane's tail section from the fuselage. The remaining aircraft structure pitched nose-down violently, causing the engines to tear off, after which it fell into uncontrollable gyrations. The fuselage of the Boeing 707, minus the aft 38 feet, and with part of the left and most of the right wing intact, struck an alfalfa field on the ground. Most of the fuselage was found near Unionville, MO, but the engines and parts of the tail section and left wing were found up to six miles away from the main wreckage area. Of the 45 individuals on board, 44 were already dead when rescuers reached the crash site. One passenger, 27-year-old Takehiko Nakano of Evanston, IL, was barely alive when rescuers found him among the wreckage, but he later succumbed to fatal internal injuries. Another victim, Fred P. Herman, was a recipient of the United States Medal of Freedom. In their investigation of the crash, FBI agents discovered that late-arriving passenger Thomas G. Doty, a married man with a five-year-old daughter, had purchased a life insurance policy from Mutual of Omaha for $150,000, the maximum available. He further augmented that coverage with a flight insurance policy worth another $150,000 that he purchased just before departure. Doty had recently been arrested for armed robbery and was to soon face a preliminary hearing in the matter. Investigators determined that Doty had purchased six sticks of dynamite--at 29 cents apiece--shortly before the flight. An examination of the wreckage determined that Doty's dynamite bomb was detonated in the lavatory. His motive was purely financial: His wife and daughter would be able to collect $300,000 of life insurance. His widow attempted to collect on the insurance, but when Doty's death was ruled a suicide, the policies were voided.